Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and illness. There are two effective methods for cleaning hands: 1) hand washing with soap, water and scrubbing action, and 2) using an alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) that contains at least 60% alcohol. ABHR should only be used under supervision in child care centres and it should not be used when hands are visibly dirty/soiled or when hands are wet. Washing with soap and water is your hand washing preference.

If children are too young to wash their hands themselves, do it for them. Model hand wash is important. Children should wash their hands (or have them washed):

  • when they arrive at the child care centre;
  • before they eat or drink;
  • after they use the toilet or have their diapers changed;
  • after sneezing or coughing. Teach children to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough.

Providers and staff should wash their hands:

  • when they arrive at work;
  • before preparing or serving food;
  • after diapering a child, cleaning up messes, or wiping a nose;
  • after using the washroom;
  • after assisting a child in the washroom;
  • after sneezing or coughing;
  • before leaving work and upon their arrival at home.


Check out these 3 articles from EXTENSION ALLIANCE FOR BETTER CHILD CARE on handwashing in a child care:

Some key points to remember and model for children:

  • To create bubbles (lather) rub all areas of the hands and onto wrist area. Get between the fingers and especially around the thumb. Scrub nails across palm to help clean nail area. Be vigorous about this for 20 seconds.
  • Rinse with the fingers pointing to the drain. Think washing the germs down the drain.
  • Turn off the water using the towel you dried your hands with before putting it into the trash/wastebasket. Using a towel to turn off the taps prevents recontamination of the hands.

There are many more posters on hand washing available from the CDC.