Simple Steps for Thorough Hand Washing in Child Care

Close-up of adult washing hands

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and reduce the chance of illness in child care is through thorough, careful hand washing. Child care providers need to wash their hands regularly and to teach children how to wash their hands as well. If children are too young to wash their own hands, be sure to wash their hands for them.

Follow these steps to get your hands clean every time. Teach children this process as they learn to wash their hands. Post these steps, with pictures, on the wall near the sink as a reminder.

  1. Turn on warm water.
  2. Wet your hands with running water.
  3. Apply liquid soap.
  4. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Rub the palms and backs of your hands, scrub under nails, and rub between fingers. When teaching children to wash their hands, introduce a hand washing song to be sure they have scrubbed long enough.
  5. Rinse your hands under running water for at least 10 seconds.
  6. Dry your hands with a clean, disposable paper towel.
  7. Turn off the water using the paper towel instead of your bare hand.
  8. Throw the paper towel away in a lined trash container.

IMPORTANT: If the hand washing sink is also being used for food preparation, it must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

For more information on hand washing in child care, check out the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles:

Photo by arlingtonva / CC BY