How to Teach Children How to Wash Their Hands

My hands ALWAYS have to be clean. I cannot stand it if I have dirty hands. It is to the extreme folks! I am a bit of a germaphobe, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the feeling of “not clean” hands. You know that feeling? Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you weren’t blessed with first child syndrome like I am.

Do you know what I’m talking about: first child syndrome? My Mom blames my persistent need to always have clean hands on being a first child. You see, as her first child, she constantly wiped my hands and kept me clean. Once my sister came along, she didn’t have as much time to keep on top of wiping my sister’s hands clean, so that is her theory as to why dirty hands (or un-clean hands) don’t bother her like they bother me.

Just like many parents, there are some parenting decisions that my parents made that I do not wish to follow. As parents, we often make that conscious decision to not “make the same mistakes” as our parents did. So, I set out to ensure that my first born did NOT suffer from first child syndrome and do you know what? I succeeded! My daughter could care less if her hands get dirty, but my son on the other hand….well, I don’t know if it’s nature or something that I did, but he doesn’t like to have messy hands. So, despite my best efforts, I still have one child who really doesn’t like the feeling of having dirty hands.

Now, that doesn’t mean that my son enjoys washing his hands properly. I still struggle with this in our house. We have a rule in our house that whenever you are coming inside from being at school, out in public or simply playing outside that you wash your hands. This is my habit and a habit that I felt was important to pass on to my children. Do you do this?

Often, however, the children are in a rush to get into an activity (or eat) and so they rush through washing their hands and they do what I call a quick rinse. They pump the soap and rinse it off, forgetting to properly lather and rub their hands together to knock off the dirt and germs.

Here are some tips for How to Teach Children How to Wash Their Hands Properly:

  • Teach them the proper technique. Do not assume that your child knows the proper way to wash their hands, see the tips below for a good hand washing technique.
  • Be present. If they know that you are watching them, they are more likely to wash their hands properly.
  • Provide easy to use soap. If you expect your children to wash their hands with soap, be sure to have a soap available that is child friendly. A foaming hand soap like Live Clean Tropical and Mixed Berry Foaming Hand Soaps are a fun and easy to use option for children.
  • Give them a cue. Have them sing a song like the ABC song while they wash to give them a cue as to the amount of time that they should spend lathering, rubbing and rinsing their hands.
  • Have them re-wash. If you weren’t present and you heard that there is no possible way that their hands were cleaned properly, ask them to go back and re-wash their hands properly. Continue to have them re-wash until they have washed them an appropriate amount of time.
  • Use a timer. Some children need something visual to help them. Consider using a kitchen timer in the washroom that they set before they start the water. The CDC recommends that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Be a good role model. If you children see you washing your hands the proper way, this will help them understand the importance of good hand washing.

A Good Handwashing Technique:

  1. Get hands wet.
  2. Lather your hands with soap.
  3. Rub your hands, fingers and fingernails. Ensure to rub the fronts, backs and in between the fingers. Do this for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands well.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel,

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107 Responses to How to Teach Children How to Wash Their Hands

  1. selbys says:

    Because of the way our home is, we all wash in the kitchen. That made it easy to watch how they were washing so they do a pretty good job.

  2. James Robert says:

    My kids have not only learned at home about washing their hands but at school. One of youngest ones is obsessed and forever washing her hands. My son I have to watch closer, he is always in a hurry and doesn’t wash properly I finihsed and noticed for Canada only. So sorry

  3. Lynda Cook says:

    My girls hated washing their hands, I was always following them around making sure they did, but now with my granddaughters when they come over I don’t have a problem as long as I have some fun and fruit smelling hand wash, kids love anything fun, plus it helps when it foams up too, they just love that!!

  4. lori b says:

    i have no special tricks, handwashing is just something we do all the time.

  5. elizamatt says:

    My grandchildren, the older ones are very good at washing their hands. The younger ones will often try to get away without washing them but grandma usually catches them out on that and back they go 🙂

  6. Judy Cowan says:

    My nieces/nephews are pretty good at washing their hands but I have caught them a few times trying to get away with not doing it. Have fun coloured or scented soap does seem to help.

  7. Cheryl H says:

    They are pretty good at washing their hands but they usually need to be asked

  8. Wanda Tracey says:

    Those are awesome tips.I like to wash my hands a lot and do so often.I think children understand the importance of it if they are taught for sure.We live in a dirty world so we have to be as clean and sanitary as we possibly can.

  9. Laurie P says:

    My girl is obsessed with washing her hands! I think she does a pretty good job of it too!

  10. JustPlainSuzi says:

    They do – I am lucky that way!

  11. Dianne says:

    My grandchildren are good about washing their hands. There are little stools by the sinks in the bathrooms so they can reach the taps and they have just been taught from a young age that this is what they need to do.

  12. Shari D says:

    My little grandson is just starting, but he likes to sing while washing his hands.

  13. UglyMummy says:

    my oldest is pretty good at washing his hands my youngest i still have to do it for him, i wish i had some tricks

  14. Vesper Meikle says:

    all pretty good – follow the example given

  15. Erika Letson says:

    I have four children and my littlest one is still learning, but I find that using fun products just for kids really help!

  16. Darwin says:

    My oldest is much better at washing hands than the younger ones. WE have started a chart to encourage them to wash hands. Each time they do it, they earn a stamp

  17. kathy downey says:

    We had a toy that sings a song and she washes till the song is done

  18. jonnieh says:

    My kids need to be reminded sometimes but they are pretty good about it. I make it easy for them with step stools, easy to use taps and soap, and low hanging towels.

  19. lp says:

    too early for hand-washing but we talk about it whenever we do it. thanks

  20. My kids are pretty good about washing. Teaching them early about hygine and staying consistent with it has helped.

  21. fossie55 says:

    My grandkids are great at hand washing. It becomes a routine after awhile.
    Florence C

  22. Elva Roberts says:

    My children are all adults now and I know their hands are clean when they visit us!

  23. Dayna Wilson says:

    My 16 month old still needs a lot of help washing her hands. My 3 year old can do it himself, but if it were up to him he’d stand there for a million years washing.

  24. ivy pluchinsky says:

    we have a song that we sing that is the appropriate amount of time for hand washing

  25. michelle matta says:

    its an uphill constant battle, but i merge the toothbrushing and handwashing techniques… brush and wash as long as a song. sometimes we switch the song

  26. Amy says:

    My kids are good about washing their hands. I don’t really have any tips or tricks.

  27. Silvia D says:

    my kids are a little older so know to wash up ect..my step grandkids on the other hand need some reminding. i always have some kid hand foam wash at the sink.

  28. Juliee Fitze says:

    No my grandchildren do not , they run their hands under the water then leave.

  29. Linda Klages says:

    for some reason my grandson has never liked any kind of lotion and he doesn’t like liquid soap either…………..

  30. Camille W says:

    I definitely do the washing-hands-as-soon-as-you-come-in-from-outside thing. Have you seen outside? It’s gross out there. My LO is still too young to wash her own hands but these are some good tips. Thanks!

  31. Nancy Parsons says:

    My husband and I are germ a phobics. My kids are good at hand washing. For my 20 month old I wash his hands and tell him to shake his hands at his sister or daddy or even me and he thinks it’s funny with the reaction we give him then we dry his hands. He loves washing up.

  32. Josie says:

    My kids often do not wash properly but I will send them back in to do it again. I tell them to sing a song while they are washing.

  33. Jennifer P. says:

    My kids wash their hands properly, when I am watching. I always wash with my youngest, but my older child can do it on her own. However, when I am not watching (that she knows of) she goes much faster than she should – she rushes through and does not do a thorough job. We taught her all the steps we’d like her to follow – wet her hands, apply soap (not too much, not too little; she usually does too much though – 2 or 3 squirts instead of 1 big one), scrub and scrub getting in between fingers, near/under fingernails etc while singing Happy Birthday twice, then drying (without touching anything else in the bathroom e.g. when in a public place). She does a thorough job in public because we’ve talked about how gross public places are, but without fail she always seems to touch a million surfaces on our way out. At home she is definitely more prone to doing a quick rinse. My tip is to really keep watching until the routine becomes an unbreakable habit.

  34. Robin says:

    I’m not sure my daughter always does but we found foam soap to help

  35. Brittney House says:

    I buy them fun soaps so that they cant wait to wash their hands.

  36. jamie lynn says:

    Try to make it fun:)

  37. Wendy Hutton says:

    I buy foaming hand wash and they seem to like to washing their hands more

  38. wobbles13 says:

    I have a hands free battery powered soap dispenser the kids always want to use it

  39. Andrea Amy says:

    They don’t always wash their hands properly but I try to make it fun with foaming soaps and soaps of different colours

  40. Ashleigh Swerdfeger says:

    I do my best to ensure my son washes his hands with soap and water before meals 🙂

  41. Carole Dube says:

    MY granddaughter loves soap, but we have to help her wash her hand properly. She doesn’t scrub and say I’m done!

  42. Jan says:

    still too young to do it properly on their own but they love singing or making silly noises while washing hands

  43. danielle nantau says:

    Still a little too young to do it on her own. But we sing “hand washing” songs that mama makes up to make it a longer and more fun experience

  44. Mel says:

    Singing a son while washing hands makes it fun.

  45. Monique Shuell says:

    My daughter does not remember to wash her hands all the time, but when she does she is quite thorough. She likes using soap, and has been scrubbing up lately like a surgeon does…all the way to her elbows. I try to help her by making up funny songs about washing our hands until they are clean.

  46. Erica Seaman says:

    Yes, both my children sing the ABC song while they wash up

  47. Josh says:

    My daughter does a pretty good job but she definitely could improve.

  48. Jodi Mitrovic says:

    I wash my son’s hands right now to make sure they’re done properly. I always like to sing and make a game out of it so he has fun with it! 🙂

  49. Robyn B. says:

    They usually do because they know I do the sniff test.

  50. Donna L. says:

    They started at a young age so they are good about hand washing.

  51. flowerchild23 says:

    My kids do a good job because I always check and keep reminding them

  52. KellyPC says:

    they do pretty good

  53. Heidi C. says:

    We started very early on teaching our kids the importance of handwashing and we continue to remind them regularly of the importance of doing so.

  54. Carol Denny says:

    My grandkids are pretty goog at washing hands.

  55. Donnas says:

    Not too bad, just a few reminders needed

  56. naiddia peracha says:

    I usually have to remind them.

  57. Kathy Rose says:

    Not usually. They in to big a hurry to get back to what they are doing.

  58. Sunshine g says:

    I have to remind her – but only because she finds it annoying, not because she doesn’t remember!

  59. Marie Catherine says:

    she doesn’t get the soap evenly on her hands but I give a 2 year old effort for trying

  60. Maria McLachlan says:

    My seven year old son is pretty good most times but do still ask and check up on him here and there.

  61. Jenny Major says:

    my kids love washing their own hands

  62. Jessica PJ says:

    It’s always hard to get my little guy to slow down when he needs to wash his hands. Constant reminders have helped him a lot.

  63. Joanne Saunders says:

    Yes, I work in the health care industry and know how important proper hand washing is, so I’ve done my best to teach my son.

  64. Shara W says:

    My 4 year old does pretty well.

  65. Wanda Tracey says:

    My grandchildren are really good to wash their hands before meals and know the importance of doing this.

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  67. Kimberley Buckton says:

    My son is really good at washing his hands. He doesn’t always want to but I manage to convince him

  68. Nicole Gervais says:

    no my son always tries to get out of washing him hands. its a struggle but were slowly getting there.

  69. Gillian Morgan says:

    Sophie loves washing her hands. She has a little timer that helps her know that she has spent the time necessary to be clean. She is very proud of it. Since sure started potty training three years ago, she hasn’t had to be reminded to wash her hands ever.

  70. Theresa C. says:

    My kids all wash their hands properly – it’s so important, especially when they start school! 😉

  71. Cassandra Rae says:

    My daughter is almost 2 so I still help her a lot to ensure they are cleaned properly but she’s learning

  72. ElaineB2 says:

    My granddaughter is learning to wash her hands under the supervision of her mum.

  73. Doris says:

    The kids wash their hands regularly. The trick is to make hand washing fun.

  74. My little guy does wash his hands but he isnt the best at it, but he is learning.

  75. wobbles13 says:

    they wash their hands but I have to help to make sure they do a good job

  76. I have a teen and a tween. The oldest is fairly good with his hand washing routine. The younger boy is at an age where he absolutely detests being clean. It is frustrating.

  77. M Gibb says:

    They love foaming soap

  78. Larker says:

    My kids wash their hands well but if the soap smells nice they will wash longer.

  79. Viv Sluys says:

    My older 2 are really good at hand washing but we’re still working on it with our 3 year old.

  80. Stephanie La Plante says:

    My little cousins know hand washing is important. They wash while singing ABCs and when the song is over, they know they’ve washed enough.

  81. M Thompson says:

    Always hard to get the wee ones to wash properly. It takes time and patience.

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  83. aly3360 says:

    It can be a pain in the butt to get them to wash properly, but working on it.

  84. billiondollarprincesss says:

    Get them to sing a song as they do it.

  85. Moongazing says:

    Not as well as I would like. We’re working on it.

  86. lindafast says:

    My granddaughter is turning 3 next month and it is a small chore to get her to was her hands. I find the foaming soap works better just plain liquid soap.

  87. Donna Trowbridge says:

    My daughter in law sings a songs when getting my granddaughter to wash her hands.

  88. Jennifer R says:

    My kids do wash their hands pretty good but we do the ABC song in our heads from a earlier age.

  89. Amy Brown says:

    No she doesn’t wash them at all, she runs the water and I catch her just standing there!

  90. angela mitchell says:

    My daughter washes her hands well. I found it helped when I explained to her all the reasons why we need to wash our hands and not just how to do it properly.

  91. mommakoala says:

    No problems here with getting our family to wash their hands.

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  93. sexybrat says:

    Yes, our kids always wash their hands.

  94. Margaret MacKenzie says:

    I have always instilled proper handwashing techniques with my children. My daughter picked them up easily but my son is a little bit more resistant to the technique. With lots of guidance and reminding, he will get it.

  95. Katharine W says:

    They only wash their hands properly when you remind them to turn the water to warm instead of just cold. I have fruit fragranced hand soap so if I smell lemons, I know they actually used the soap instead of just rinsing their hands and running the water.

  96. My kids are really good about washing their hands. They love to make bubbles and that helps. Otherwise, I remind them that if they don’t do a good job, they and everyone else might get sick and that means no ice cream…

    Besos, Sarah
    Journeys of The Zoo

  97. Linda Klages says:

    make sure you have a small stool so they can reach the water

  98. Gemma says:

    Yes, we have no problems!

  99. Kate Newton says:

    I think the key is just to start young. Anytime they eat, potty or after playing outside its just a must do! If they start young, it becomes habit!

  100. Lisa Voyce says:

    The saying is monkey see, monkey do…so lead by example is my best tip.

  101. naynays1 says:

    My son does great at washing his hands, anything that involves water is easy.

  102. mohammad anjum says:

    kids wash their hands pretty good

  103. amy deeter says:

    yes they are real good about washing their hands.sometimes i will have to remind them,but they do pretty good

  104. californiapoppy says:

    I have shown my kids how to wash their hands properly…. you just have to have patience and show them right so they know.
    Cheryl Reinhardt

  105. Jessica Cyr says:

    I try my best to keep those little fingers as clean as i can 🙂

  106. Sarah Alexis says:

    My 14 year old is a germ-a-phobe and is constantly stressing that her 6 year old brother doesn’t wash his hands properly!

  107. Dandi D says:

    My son goes through hand soap like crazy!

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