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Proper hand-washing should be an early lesson

Molly Cerreta Smith has enjoyed a career in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. As an editor of several regional magazines, she has had the opportunity throughout her career to meet many local celebrities, businesspeople, ent...

Top and bottom... in between

You've heard that silly hand-washing song, right? Hopefully your kids have, too. If not, read on to find out why proper hand-washing techniques should be an early lesson.

little-girl-washing-hands

The facts, Jack

New research shows from Wellcome Trust reveals that one in six cell phones are contaminated with fecal matter (ewwwww!), due in large part to poor hygiene and improper hand-washing techniques.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that annually, more than 164 million school days are lost due to illnesses, many of which are a result of exposure to viruses and bacteria passed from person to person. However, bacteria that live on surfaces in our homes, at school and at the office are responsible, too. (If that's the case, can you imagine the grime taking up residence in your kids' bathroom?)

Find out which 5 spots in your house you should disinfect daily >>

Ditch the ick

But there's an easy solution to this icky issue: proper hand-washing techniques. Though hand sanitizers and wipes have flooded the market, Cheryl Luptowski, home safety expert at NSF International, notes that hand washing continues to remain one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread many types of infection and illness.

To be effective, hand-washing needs to be done correctly. Luptowski notes, "During a demonstration at NSF International's laboratories in Michigan, children were asked to apply a special glowing lotion to their hands before washing their hands. Once the children washed up, they placed their hands under a black light, and 'problem spots' glowed, showing them what areas were missed while washing. The culprits: under the nails, between the fingers and wrists."

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Scrubbing steps

Luptowski says, "To make sure these locations are not missed when you or your kids wash their hands, follow these simple steps:  Wet your hands with warm water. Lather your hands with soap and rub your hands together vigorously for 20 seconds, paying special attention to the nails, between the fingers and wrists. Then rinse your hands with clean water and dry your hands thoroughly with a hand dryer or paper towel."

She also offers the following tips to make hand-washing an easy and fun task for children:

  • Consider creating a hand washing chart at home that tracks each time your child washes his or her hands. Offer them a prize or reward at the end of clean hands week after a designated certain time frame of good hand washing practices.
  • Take pictures of places germs live in your child's environment, such as on the dog (or its toy or dish) or doorknobs, and post them near sinks, on the refrigerator or near your child's hand washing chart. This will help remind them of when they need to wash their hands.
  • Have young children count to 10 twice while washing their hands to better understand the required 20 seconds.
  • Cook with your child, emphasizing the importance of washing your hands both before and after handling food.
  • Check out online sites like scrubclub.org for additional fun hand washing ideas.

Read more on ways to keep your kids healthy

Protect your baby from UTIs and diaper rash
Foods and drinks that soothe sick kids

Staying healthy at daycare

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