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Hand Washing for Kids 101

Close-up of a child’s little hands being washed with soap and water over a white sink

If you’re a parent, you might be busy right now teaching your child how to ride a bike, how to tie their shoes or how to say their ABCs. Teaching your child how to wash their hands is another lesson to add to the mix. Hand washing for kids is important because it can help keep your family healthy by protecting against the spread of germs. Explore Children’s Advil’s guide on hand washing below for helpful tips.

Proper Handwashing for Kids

  • Wash hands with clean, running water—not too hot or too cold—so that your child is comfortable. Your child should be able to place their hands under the faucet easily—consider getting a step stool if needed.
  • Always use soap. Choose a gentle soap that won’t irritate skin, and try to find one with a scent your child likes, such as apple or watermelon. A foaming soap can help make the process fun, too!
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds. You can use this time to practice counting to 20 with your child, if they’re still learning. Are they already a numbers pro? Try singing a fun song like the “ABC” song or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” For a fun twist, sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Wash Your Hands.”
  • Create a generous lather to wash the front and back of the hands. Remember to always wash the fingers and under the fingernails as well.
  • Make sure to rinse all the soap off. Soap residue can irritate skin and make hands dry if it’s left on for too long, so it’s important to do a thorough rinse under warm running water.
  • Always dry hands thoroughly with a clean towel when finished. When your child is first learning, be sure to provide encouragement and let them know they did a good job. That way, they will be excited to do it again.

Remember to lead by example; children learn best by imitating your actions. Hand washing alone can be a simple way to help protect your child and yourself from exposure to germs . Teach your child to wash their hands often—including both at home and at school —or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Learn about what you can do to keep your child from getting sick.