Keep your hands clean

As spring approaches, continue to reinforce proper handwashing practices with preschoolers to prevent the spread of germs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Handwashing is like a ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy.”

It might sound simple and you might think you hear about handwashing too often, but keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to help stop the spread of cold and flu germs all year long, especially now during flu season. This time of the year it is critical to keep your hands as well as the hands of children in your care clean all day long to help combat the spread of illness. We often don’t realize how many germs can be present on our hands. We need to remember that germs are everywhere and can be shared easily. Handwashing is easy to do and can be done by people of all ages. Whether you are 2, 42 or 72 years of age, you can be a great hand washer and get rid of illness-causing germs on your hands.

Handwashing may seem like a simple task, and it really is, but we need to be sure proper handwashing techniques are used. Michigan State University Extension recommends washing your hands properly and thoroughly by following the steps below:

  • Wet: Wet your hands with hot, running water
  • Lather: Apply liquid soap
  • Scrub: Scrub hands for 10-15 seconds remembering to wash both front and back of hands, as well as in between fingers
  • Rinse: Rinse with running water
  • Dry: Dry hands with a single-use paper towel or air dryer

The entire handwashing process should take at least 20 seconds from start to finish. When working with children on proper handwashing, encourage them to sing a song like the “ABC” song or “Happy Birthday,” and have them wash until they are done singing to ensure they are washing long enough to kill germs. 

Critical times during the day when you should be washing your hands include:

  • Before, during, and after touching food
  • Before eating food
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

Be the best hand washer that you can be and help teach those in your care to wash the germs away. See the video below for a demonstration on proper handwashing technique.


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