You have probably told your kids countless times to wash their hands before eating, after they have gone to the bathroom or been outside to play. But kids don't always understand how germs are spread or the importance of using soap. Since washing your hands is the best way to prevent spreading germs, here are some quick and dirty tips to help teach your kids about clean hands.

Different ways germs can spread

There are a lot of ways that germs can spread, and here are some of the most important ones to keep in mind:

  • Having dirty hands
  • Touching contaminated surfaces
  • Contaminated water and food
  • Through the air via a cough or sneeze
  • Contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is sick
  • Changing dirty diapers

When you or your kids pick up germs, an infection can occur just by touching dirty hands to the mouth, eyes or nose. Once an infection occurs, it tends to spread quickly to the entire family.

Staying healthy with clean hands

Hand washing is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses and illness, including the common cold, the flu, food poisoning and diarrhea.

Effective hand-washing techniques

To keep illness at bay, teach your kids the right way to wash their hands. Better yet, washing your hands together will help reinforce this important routine:

  1. Use warm water, but not too hot for little hands.
  2. Always use soap, regular or antibacterial soap will do, and make sure to lather for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Get soap in between fingers and underneath nails where germs are likely to hide.
  4. Don't stop with your hands; wash all the way up to both wrists.
  5. Rinse with water and use a clean, dry towel.

Get hand washing down to a routine

Regular hand washing is always a good idea, but here are some times when it's extra important:

  • Prior to eating and cooking
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After a cough or sneeze
  • After playing with animals, even family pets
  • Before and after visiting sick friends or relatives
  • After cleaning dirty items
  • After outdoor activities like playing

Hand washing may seem simple, but it's a powerful tool that could save you and your family from frequent trips to see your doctor.

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