It’s cold and flu season, and your kids are sure to encounter germs at home, the playground, daycare, or school. You can keep your family healthy by teaching children the importance of washing their hands correctly and washing their hands often enough.

Wash your hands with your child and break down the process of washing hands into 5 easy steps:

  1. Wet child’s hands with clean, warm running water
  2. Use one pump of soap and scrub between fingers, backs of hands and under nails
  3. Lather the soap for at least 20 seconds
  4. Rinse child’s hands well under clean, warm running water
  5. Dry hands using a clean towel
a child's soapy hands washing under running water in a sink

Washing hands is a lesson that can be learned through repeating the interactive activity, so try to keep the energy upbeat and fun with scented or foaming soaps. Singing songs like the alphabet or Happy Birthday can help kids stay focused on the task at hand and ensure they lather soap for at least 20 seconds.

An important step when teaching children proper handwashing techniques is explaining when they should wash their hands. Kids need to wash their hands after playing with pets, using the bathroom, sneezing or coughing and playing outside. They should also know to wash their hands before touching wounds or eating. Remind kids when and how to wash their hands by adding visual aids like the ones created by Water Quality & Health Council.

Adults can teach children healthy habits that will stick with them through life by emphasizing the importance of handwashing and how germs can spread.