5 Common Handwash Mistakes Kids Make

5 Common Handwash Mistakes Kids Make

10 May 2022 | 6 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 484 Articles

While the pandemic brought to light the importance of having clean hands more than ever and highlighted common hand washing mistakes, it is very important for kids to learn it right. 

Kids in particular still have a developing immune system so it’s important teach them to practice good hygiene. Even though your kids may be washing their hands regularly, they may not be doing it right. If not washed the right way, their hands could still have germs that transmit diseases and infection.

Let’s take a look at the mistakes kids may make while washing their hands, and how you can teach them to wash it squeaky clean!


Why Is Hand Washing Important For Kids?


Hand washing helps prevent the spreading of germs and keeps kids healthy. They are less likely to fall sick and get diarrhoea or suffer from respiratory infections.

Let your little one know how handwashing prevents them from falling sick and infecting other people too. It can cause infectious diseases such as influenza, respiratory infections, colds and gastrointestinal infections. Teach them how often they should wash their hands and how infections and illnesses arising from dirty hands can prevent them from enjoying their favourite activities.

5 Common Handwashing Mistakes Kids Make

1. Not Using Soap

Kids can be in a hurry to savour their favourite food and might just wash their hands with plain water. Soap creates a chemical reaction which washes off the germs once they create lather and you rinse them off.  

2. Not Washing Hands Long Enough

As per CDC, you should wash your hands for about 15 to 30 seconds to remove more germs and washing hands for a shorter period prevents this. Children are always in a hurry and may find this tedious, make it fun by doing things like asking your child to sing their favourite rhyme or song while washing their hands or turn it into a fun game like who finishes last instead of first!

3. Touching Dirty Knobs or Surfaces After Washing Hands

Touching dirty doorknobs or surfaces with wet hands right after handwashing only allows these germs to grow as a moist environment is a perfect place for bacteria to survive. 

4. Not Drying Hands Completely

Most germs are found in a moist environment, which means that wet hands create more chances for the bacteria to grow. 

5. Skipping Some Corners

Kids might only focus on their palms but germs need to be scrubbed away from areas like the pockets between fingers and under the fingernails.

How Often Should Kids Wash their Hands?

Educate your child on when they should wash their hands. Kids need to wash their hands before:  

  • Eating their meals
  • Touching their nose, eyes or mouth 
  • Touching their cuts, wounds or scrape

Teach them to wash their hands after- 

  • Using the bathroom
  • Playing with pets or any other animals
  • Playing outdoors or touching any playground equipment
  • Coming close to a sick person
  • Touching a soiled diaper
  • Touching the garbage bins or bags
  • Feeding pets food or even touching them
Make your child rinse their hands well under clean running water / Credit – Canva

Hand Washing For Babies

Washing a baby’s hands is different from washing an older child’s hands. Here are a few tips for washing a baby’s hands – 

  • Use a warm wet towel to clean your baby’s hand.
  • Lather soap on their hands gently.
  • Use another fresh warm towel to clean off the soap.
  • Soak their hands in a bowl of lukewarm water to wash off any traces of soap.
  • Wipe with a clean dry cloth.

Hand Washing For Toddlers

  1. Ask your child to rinse their hands first before applying the soap or hand wash.
  2. Make them rub the hands so that the soap spreads well across the back of the hands, palms, between fingers and under the nails. Make them sing their favourite songs or rhymes while they are at it. 
  3. Rinse the hands well with clean water to wash off the soap completely.
  4. Shake the hands a few times to get rid of the excess water, then use a clean towel to dry their hands and your little one is done!

Additional Tips for Handwashing

If your child can’t reach the wash basin, help them by lifting them up so that they can reach the basin. It’s a good idea to get your toddler a stool or a step up ladder so that he/she can access the basin. Make sure that it is anti-slip.

In places where there is no access to a wash basin, while you are travelling with your child, you can use a child friendly natural foaming handwash, as these handwashes are all natural and rinse off easily, unlike chemical based soaps. Rinse off the soap with wet wipes and use a clean disposable paper towel to dry the hands. Do not forget to wash your hands after helping your child. While sanitisers are a good option, washing hands with a child friendly handwash is a better option.

When to Use Hand Sanitiser 

Soap and water are the best to remove dirt, oil and germs completely. Use a handwash with natural ingredients to prevent drying out your little one’s hands. However, when you and your child cannot get access to soap and water, use a sanitiser to clean the hands of your little one. 

How to Make Your Toddler Follow Hand Hygiene

Set Example
Kids pick up the things you do so make sure you practice what you teach. Wash your hands before eating or preparing meals, after using the bathroom and after playing or working.

Remind Them
Kids need to be reminded as they may only consider visible dirt like mud, dust or paint. Germs cannot be seen and hence make them wash their hands. 

Make it a Fun Game
Make your child sing their favourite poems or songs while they wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. You can also ask your child to wash a toy while they go to wash their hands.

Show Videos

There are multiple ads and videos that demonstrate the importance of handwashing. Show your little one for a better understanding. 


Give Rewards
Set handwashing goals for them and tell them that each time they wash their hands, they will be rewarded.

Take it Slow
While you want your child to pick healthy habits right away, your child needs to get into the practice. Start by initially helping them so that they get comfortable and form a habit. 

Cover image credit – Halsey Schools

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