I remember when I was a student nurse, a scary matron once hovered by the sink like a hawk, examining our hand washing skills before letting us loose on our clinical placements. I got shouted out because I applied the soap before wetting my hands. Whoopsie. Anyway, I will now share with you my tips for The King Of Infection Control:
Home and Out
My biggest, most favourite Hand Washing Tip of All Time is this: Wash your hands whenever you get home after being out and about, no matter where you have been. Set the example to your kids and make them do the same. After years of doing this, both my 5 and 2.5 year old will automatically head straight to the bathroom the moment we walk in the door. Make your partner do the same. Our evening conversation runs thus:
Hubby: (Walks in) Hello everyone (kiss, hug)
Me: Hello…how was your day-have you washed your hands (breathe)?
We always clean our hands with hand sanitisers and/or wipes before eating outside the house.
We wash our hands with plenty of soap, rub vigorously for at least 15 seconds, rinse thoroughly then dry well. Some theories on hand washing state that it is the friction (hands rubbing hands), as opposed to water temperature that is crucial in germ removal. If I’ve been out doing a lot, like food shopping or playing with the kids in a playground I usually wash my hands, thoroughly: twice. (OK, OK, I’ll admit it, yeah, sometimes three times, but go easy on me…I think about germs alot).
We focus on washing: The palms, in between the fingers, the finger pads, thumbs and the back of our hands and fingers and wash up to our wrists.
The trick to getting efficient hand washing in my kids was to play a bubble game to see who could make the most bubbles with the soap while washing their hands. Another game could be to count to 15 with them, saying ‘monkey’ after each number to ensure they don’t count too quickly, i.e 1 monkey, 2 monkey, 3 monkey, 4 monkey etc.
Washing hands after toileting, changing nappies and cleaning dirty things is kind of obvious, but I suppose I should say it. It’s particularly important to drum this into your kids ready for when they start school.
I always carry a hand sanitiser and hand wipes with me outside the house because I never know when my little one will accidentally pick up a piece of dog poo (believe me, it’s happened!). I like to clean my children’s hands between activities when we are out. For example, if we have been to a dancing lesson, I will clean their hands before we then go the playground.
‘Dirty taps’ are one of the banes of my existence because they are prime vectors for infection transmission. If we use public taps when out the house, I always clean our hands with a hand sanitiser afterwards.
I am not an advocate of anti-bacterial cleansing solutions at home (more on that another time), except in the incidence of wiping the taps clean, particuarly if you know your hands were really dirty when you turned them on.
Note: The average hand sanitiser will need a drying off period of about 30 seconds to be effective. I like to accompany this ‘waiting period’ with a hand-flappy-dance.
Note: Stop touching your face! Bringing dirty fingers to your face is a fantastic way to let germs right in. I try and encourage my kids not touch their faces when we are out and about, and am quite strict about fingers in mouths.
Good habits of washing before eating at day-care can disappear at once school starts as most schools are not equipped for hundreds of students to flood to the loo’s to wash their hands before they eat. Secondly, it is unlikely that many schools would want to ‘shave’ ten minutes off the lesson before lunch and do this. So until an amazing brainiac can come up with a solution, I have solved our immediate problem by placing a hand sanitiser in daughter’s lunch box for her to quickly rub on her hands before eating.
Tell me tell me! What hand hygiene tips do you have to share?