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What’s On Your Hands?

  • Category: Parenting
  • Posted on:
  • Written By: Denise Kerut, M.D.
What’s On Your Hands?

How can you get your kids into the handwashing habit? We’ve got hand hygiene covered with these tips below.

“First thing first, explain to your children why handwashing is important. Teach them about germs and how handwashing can keep them from getting sick and making other people sick. ”
— Dr. Denise Kerut at Children’s Pediatrics River Ridge

Take the guesswork out of when to wash your hands by following these simple rules.

Tell your child to wash his or her hands before:

  • Eating
  • Touching his or her mouth, eyes, or nose
  • Touching a cut or scrape

And after:

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Playing with pets or other animals
  • Touching pet food or treats
  • Being on playground equipment
  • Being close to a person who is sick
  • Touching a dirty diaper
  • Touching garbage

Now that we know when to wash our hands, follow the 4 easy steps below for clean hands:

  1. Get wet and soapy. Get your hands wet in clean water. Put soap on your hands and make suds.
  2. Rub, rub & rub your soapy hands together long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” in your head twice. Clean your palms, the back of your hands, and between your fingers. Don’t forget to clean under your nails. Nails can trap dirt and germs.
  3. Hold your hands under clean, running water. Rub them to rinse them fully.
  4. Shake and dry. Shake your hands a few times, then dry them with a clean towel or hand dryer. Done!

Family washing their hands together.

No Soap or Water, Should You Reach for the Sanitizer Instead?
It is important to remember that hand sanitizer doesn’t work well when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Soap and water are best because they remove dirt, grease, and germs fully. But hand sanitizer is a good backup when you can’t get to soap and water. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

child and mother applying hand sanitizer

Follow these two simple steps below when using hand sanitizer:

  • Put a small blob of hand sanitizer into a palm.
  • Rub his or her hands–front and back and between fingers–until they’re dry. Done!

Dr. Kerut’s tips for success:

  • Always lead by example and practice what you preach. Make handwashing a family affair.
  • Be patient. It can take time for your child to get into the habit of handwashing, and do it properly. Give a helping hand when needed.
  • Remind as often as needed. Children will wash their hands if dirt is obvious, like mud or finger paint but they will need to be reminded to wash away germs that can’t be seen.

Dr KeurtDr. Denise Kerut specializes in pediatrics at Children’s Pediatrics River Ridge location, a subsidiary of Children’s Hospital. After earning her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Kerut completed residency at Charity Hospital and Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. Dr. Kerut chose to practice pediatrics because she loves babies! Since the age of 4, she has wanted to be a pediatrician. She enjoys caring for children of all ages and watching them grow into independent young adults. Dr. Kerut values her relationships with her patients and their parents and cares for each child as her own. Keeping her precious patients healthy and helping them feel better quickly when they are ill is very important to her.