University of Illinois Extension

Food for Thought - University of Illinois Extension

ABCs of Handwashing

Germs are everywhere. They are so small you cannot see them. Germs get on your hands from things you touch and can make you sick.

The best defense against the germs that spread disease is clean hands. Most experts agree the single most effective practice to prevent the spread of germs is good handwashing. The United States Center for Disease control estimates 40% of foodborne illness results from poor hand washing practices.

Some activities in particular expose children to germs or the opportunity to spread them. You can stop the spread of germs by washing your hands frequently and teaching your children good handwashing practices.

A. How To Wash Your Hand?

  1. Use soap and warm running water.
  2. Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Wash all parts of your hands, including the palms, backs, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
  4. Rinse well to remove all soap.
  5. Dry hands well with a clean towel or paper towel.

B. When To Wash?

Always wash your hands

  • When they are dirty.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After blowing or wip-ing your nose.
  • Before eating.
  • After eating.
  • If you cough or sneeze into your hands.
  • After playing with pets.
  • After playing outdoors.

C. How Long Is 20 Seconds?

Sometimes it is hard to know if you have washed long enough. Just how long is 20 seconds?

On the average it takes about 20 seconds to sing the ABC Song, Happy Birthday Song twice or Row, Row, Row Your Boat Song twice. Practice singing one of these songs with your children.

Also it can be a good time to practice counting, simply count to 20.

Practice Handwashing

Here is a recipe that make with your hands. It is a good opportunity to practice good handwashing. Wash your hands before you begin, before you shape the cookies and of course after you have made your cookies.

No-Bake Cookies

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup instant nonfat dry milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups dry cereal, lightly crushed
  • ½ cup raisins or chopped nuts

Place peanut butter, dry milk, and sugar in a bowl. Add vanilla and water; blend well. Stir in cereal and raisins or nuts. Wash your hands and shape into about 24 balls. To store, place in a covered container and refrigerate. Cookies are best if eaten soon after they are made.

Nutrition information per cookie: 60 calories, 3 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 55 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein.

Enjoy your cookies with a glass of cold low fat milk.

Handwashing Finger Play

This is a fun activity to help your children remember the importance of handwashing.

Germs Are Everywhere

Germs are everywhere!
(Wave hands around room)

They’re on the walls and in the halls.
(Point to walls)

They’re on the chairs and on the stairs.
(Point to chair)

They’re on the toilet seats and on your two feet.
(Point to feet)

They are on your hands and in the sand.
(Show hands)

They even like food; isn’t that rude?
But don’t be scared. Germs can be beat.
Just make sure your hands are clean and neat!

Source: Pat Fosarelli, MD; The ABCs of Clean.