If you think hand washing is overrated, think about this. In older times, people did not know how important it was to wash their hands. In fact, they didn't even bathe very often either! As a result, many diseases and illnesses were passed around quickly, and it was quite common for people to get sick. Today however, we do know that our hands pick up germs each time we touch something or someone. For example, when you take the dog out for a walk, play with friends, tie your shoelaces, or flush the toilet, you touch several objects. Later, if you rub your eyes or touch your nose or mouth, those same germs enter your body and can cause you to fall ill. When someone sneezes or coughs without covering their nose and mouth, they spray out heaps of germs that can reach everyone around them! This is one of the most common ways in which people pass on illnesses. We also need to wash our hands before cooking any food. Imagine that you’re out playing and your hands are covered with mud. It would be pretty yucky to make a sandwich and find mud in the food, right? Since germs and bacteria are so tiny, we can’t even see them except with a microscope. However, just because they’re invisible, doesn't mean they’re not there! The only way to get rid of them is by being clean.
Washing our hands is an incredibly simple but very effective way to get rid of germs. Simply use warm water and soap, and be sure to scrub thoroughly all over your fingers, palms and wrists. A general rule is to wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday two times. Make sure to also scrub under the fingernails and in between fingers to make sure that all the germs are washed out completely. In some situations you may not have immediate access to water, such as in the car or away at camp. In these cases, keep a little bottle of antibacterial gel (also known as hand sanitizer) with you, and use it to clean your hands in a similar way. In public restrooms, tear off a piece of toilet paper and use that to flush and open the stall door. It is also better to use a touch-free dryer to dry your hands after washing. Overall personal hygiene is just as important. By washing our bodies properly everyday, we can remove bacteria and prevent infections, rashes, diseases, and gross smells! Have a look at the following resources to learn more about hand washing and hygiene tips for kids.