My 4-year-old daughter would always announce to me that she needs to ‘rub’ her palms together properly when washing her hands before she rinses off the soap lather. She’s always so cute as she turns her face towards me and makes this announcement, which is really her way of saying “mom I’m a big girl now!”

As cute as she looks when she makes this announcement, I don’t let it distract me from really checking to be sure her hands are washed thoroughly. It’s not just about getting the hands wet (as my son and niece seem to believe!) So, when are their hands properly washed? Here’s a list of the right procedure for washing the hands to teach/remind your kids.

  1. Turn on the faucet and wet your hands.
  2. Apply enough soap to cover all hand surface.
  3. Rub your palms together; wash the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. This should take about twenty seconds (20 seconds). If you’re not sure of timing, hum the happy birthday song twice while you wash.
  4. Rinse off the lather with water running freely from the faucet.
  5. Dry your hands thoroughly with a hand/paper towel.
  6. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet.

These six simple steps ensure that their hands are properly washed and they don’t pick up the germs they just washed off by touching the faucet with their washed hands. So when they go to the rest room, get off the playground, before and after a meal, when they come back from school, from their favourite kids’ clothing store, hair salon and so on, it is important to remind them and ensure that they wash their hands.

Scientists say most of us, adults and kids alike, wash our hands wrongly (I had to learn last year when my son got terrible tummy aches and the doctor recommended medication as well as thorough hand washing).

While researching how to wash my hands the right way, I found something then that still holds true now, I saw the by-line for CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) 2019 hand-washing campaign and it summarises everything nicely: “Life is better with clean hands”.

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