Handwashing and Its Importance

It seems so simple to wash your hands: a dash of water here and there and you’re good to go. Well, not quite. Let’s see if we are doing it right!

Why Should You Wash Your Hands?

Germs like Salmonella and norovirus are found in human and animal poop.  Once in your body system, these parasites can cause diarrhoea. Washing your hands regularly reduces the risk of contracting diseases and spreading germs. 

How to Properly Wash Your Hands

Step 1– Use clean running water (cold or warm). Standing water poses a high risk of recontamination.

Step 2- Wet your hands first. Turn off faucet then lather and scrub your hands against each other.  Remember to scrub the back of your hands, in between your fingers & under your nails with soap.  Water alone has been found not to effectively clean your hands.

Step 4– Take a minimum of 15-20 seconds on step 3.

Step 5– Rinse your hands under clean running water. 

Step 6- Use a clean towel to wipe your hands or air dry them.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

  • Always before eating
  • When preparing food (this is before, during and after)
  • When attending to a sick person
  • When dressing a wound or a cut
  • After sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
  • After using the toilet
  • After helping your child use the bathroom
  • After changing diapers
  • After handling gabbage
  • When in contact with an animal, animal feed or animal waste

When to Train Your Child on Good Hand Hygiene

At an early age, kids are more eager to learn. They mimic almost everything we do. It’s important then that you train them good hand hygiene as it reduces the risk of them getting sick. 

Most kids by the age of three know how to clean their hands. The problem though is them remembering to do so or doing it right. It’s important to encourage them and find fun ways to keep them doing it regularly. 

You can do this by:

  • Singing a song that encourages the habit
  • Short skits 
  • Ensuring your child has access to water and soap 
  • Make sure the bar soap isn’t too big for their tiny hands
  • Explain what germs are and where they are found in a way your child can understand
  • Be your child’s model. Let them see you washing when necessary
  • Using a reward system

Are Sanitizers or Wet Antibacterial Wipes Effective?

They might be slightly expensive when compared to using running water and soap but these are just as effective. Water isn’t always available so having a plan B or C never hurt. You may not have time to properly wash your hand and this is a great alternative.


Please note that development differs from one child to another. Content intended for educational purposes only, and not substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed March 2019

Sources: .cdc.gov, google, mayoclinic

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