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Teach Kids to Scrub Those Germs Away

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Fewer absences during the school year mean greater academic performance from students. As we approach cold and flu season, remind your kids that hand washing is the best way to stop the spread of germs and to keep them from getting sick and having to miss school.

American Society of Microbiology reports that we walk around with millions of germs, or microbes, on our hands. While some are harmless to us, we can also end up touching ones that cause illnesses like diarrhea, colds and flu.

If we neglect hand washing, or don’t wash properly, we spread the germs to others. Children often infect themselves by touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are key times that we should wash our hands, including: before cooking or preparing food, before eating, after blowing your nose, sneezing, coughing or using the bathroom, after touching the garbage, handling pet waste, changing a diaper, or taking care of a sick person.

How we wash our hands is just as important as when. CDC says that warm or cold running water and soap are all you need. Rub the soap in your hands to form lather and scrub for 20 seconds. Humming the tune from “Happy Birthday” twice, will take about 20 seconds.

Remind children to scrub the back of the hands, between fingers and under nails. Rinse everything well under the running water and dry hands with a clean towel or dryer.

If you are unable to use soap and water to wash hands, hands sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol is a dependable replacement. Although, the CDC reminds us that hand sanitizers don’t kill all germs, and is ineffective on visibly dirty hands.

Hand washing is a simple yet effective preventative to catching colds and other infections. The 20 seconds you spend scrubbing your hands could mean fewer trips to the doctor.


Center for Disease Control. Wash Your Hands. Web. 24, Oct. 2011.

MicrobeWorld. Why is Hand Washing Important? Web. 24, Oct. 2011.

Reviewed October 25, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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