Washy Washy Clean: The Proper Ways of Handwashing

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Hygiene is all in the hands. Is your child washing his hands right?

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Like any mum, you worry about your child falling sick. It does not help that you have to constantly battle with infectious diseases like HFMD and H1N1 influenza, and of course, the annoying common cold. How do you protect your little one from yet another germ attack?

One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs is actually in your child’s hands, as good hygiene starts with clean hands.

In fact, several research studies show that hands are the single most important transmission route for all types of infections

Your child’s hands are everywhere, from stained doorknobs to toilet flush handles to the mucus he wipes with the back of his hand. If he washes his hands only after meals and simply places his hands under running water, he may not be getting rid of the germs that cling on.

That was what many children (and their mums and preschool teachers) learnt at the HealthZone Hygiene Carnival, jointly organised by Lifebuoy and Health Promotion Board (HPB), held from the 13th to the 24th of April.

The carnival, aimed at children aged between four and eight, attracted over 2000 pre-schoolers and lower- primary school students. During the event, impressionable minds were taught the proper ways of handwashing.

When to wash hands

The preschoolers who attended the carnival’s humorous and animated opening presentation learnt about the five occasions when they have to wash their hands.

“Dr LifeBuoy’s assistant” and “Leila” showed the room of high-spirited children how important it was to wash their hands in order to avoid the evil “No Good”, a germ that was waiting to “infect”.

When “Leila” failed to wash her hands at any one of the occasions, the children would shout out, “Wash your hands!” before “No Good” attacked her.

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Here are the five occasions when handwashing has to be done:

  1. Before and after breakfast
  2. After using the toilet
  3. Before and after lunch
  4. After play
  5. Before and after dinner
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The children also had fun trying to attack “germs”, through the exciting carnival game stations that were set up at HPB Healthzone. To K2 student Chin Wai Ting, the station “Defeat the Enemy”, where he had to use a nerf-like gun to “shoot” the germs, was “most fun”.

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Vanessa Lim and Abishek Rahul Sinha, both six, loved the “Capture the Enemy” station where they had fun catching small round papers – germs – falling all over them.

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What else must you take note of to keep your child’s hands hygienic? Read on.

How to wash hands

Besides knowing when to wash their hands, children at the carnival also learnt about the proper way to wash their hands.

In fact, what six-year-old Crystal Koh enjoyed the most about the carnival was the catchy handwashing jingle that incorporated the eight steps for proper handwashing. The jingle (that went Washy, washy, clean scrub scrub!) was sung together with all the children during the opening presentation.

These are the eight simple steps for proper handwashing:

  1. Scrub palm to palm
  2. Scrub between fingers
  3. Scrub back of hands
  4. Scrub base of thumbs
  5. Scrub back of fingers
  6. Scrub fingernails
  7. Scrub wrists
  8. Rinse and wipe dry

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Washing Hands with Soap

It was very clear to the children who attended the carnival that in order to wash their hands properly, they have to wash not just with water, but with soap.

During the presentation by “Dr Lifebuoy’s assistant”, preschool volunteers had to “stick the soap onto the germ”, while blindfolded, to show how soap was necessary to kill the germs.

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All children also had a go at washing their hands using Lifebuoy’s antibacterial soap, following the eight steps of proper handwashing. What was fascinating for many children here was the glo-germ station next to the handwashing area, where they could add glo-germ powder onto their hands, wash if off, then check their hands at the glo-germ station. If the hands were not washed with the antibacterial soap, the powder on the hands would glow.

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Why Use Antibacterial Soap

The handwashing soap that you choose for your home has to be effective in destroying germs.

For Angeline Sim, a mum who attended the event, washing hands with an anti-bacterial  soap is a “house-rule”, especially now that she has a baby at home and wants to keep her home germ-free.

Klessis Lee, another mum who was at the carnival, has been using Lifebuoy products for many years, and likes Lifebuoy products because of the “quality and effectiveness in killing bacteria”, while still having a “fresh scent”. Lifebuoy’s antibacterial soap kills 99.9% germs in 10 seconds of lathering.

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If your child needs motivation to wash his hands, try to make handwashing fun by getting him to wash his hands using Lifebuoy’s colour-changing handwash.

After 10 seconds of rubbing of hands with this handwash, if you see a green-coloured lather (released from tiny bead particles in the soap) on your child’s hands, it means that 99.9% of germs have been removed, and he can rinse them off. It is also reassuring for you to know that your child has washed his hands the proper way.

Beverly Burgess, who has switched to anti-bacterial soap since attending the event, later said that handwashing has now become so much fun for her two boys with Lifebuoy’s colour-changing soap:  “I only need to holler out, “Who wants to wash their hands with green soap first?” and both magically appear and charge straight to the sink!”.

You can pick up more tips on hand hygiene here.

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Keep your child protected with an effective antibacterial soap like Lifebuoy. Educate him to follow the eight steps of proper handwashing on five key occasions. So even when he is on his own, at school or otherwise, he would know exactly how to fence off germs, and always keep his hands clean.
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What do you do to motivate your child to wash his hands properly? Do you have antibacterial soap at home? Do share with us.