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Hand Washing

How to Wash Your Hands

Hand washing is easy to do and is the best way to help prevent the spread of illness. Learn when and how to wash your hands and get tips on what to teach your kids.

Parent helping child wash hands in bathroom

When should you wash your hands?

Your hands touch a lot throughout the day, and consequently pick up a lot of bacteria and viruses. It is good practice to wash your hands frequently throughout the day, but make sure you and your children wash your hands especially at these key moments:

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After handling garbage
  • After touching animals or handling animal waste
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick or injured

How to wash your hands

Child turning on faucet


Wet your hands with running water.

Adult applying soap to childs hand over kitchen sink


Apply soap and lather.

Child using a block of soap to wash hands


Rub hands with hand soaps vigorously for 20 seconds. (Hint: Sing “Happy Birthday” twice, OR the “ABCs”). Remember to get the back of your hands and underneath your fingernails.

Baby being held over porcelain sink with hands under running tap


Use the towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet.

A towel hung up on the wall of a bathroom.


Dry your hands with a clean towel, paper towel, or air dryer.

Teaching kids how to wash their hands

Hand washing is key to your children’s health. From sharing pencils in class, to swapping lunches, to drinking from the water fountain – kids pass a lot of germs while they are at school. Make sure your kids know how to wash their hands with these tips.

Parent helping baby to wash hands
  • Wash your hands with your kids so they can see how it’s done.
  • Make sure your kids can reach the sink. Have a stool nearby if needed.
  • Teach your kid to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, or the A-B-Cs, while they wash their hands to prevent rushing.
  • Remind your kids that it’s important to wash their hands frequently throughout the day, not just before eating and after going to the bathroom.


Washing your hands is quick, easy, and is one of the most effective ways to help prevent illness. Adopt this simple habit and help protect your children’s health.