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Essential Procedures for Teaching Good Hand Hygiene


What is Hand Hygiene?

Having a good hand hygiene procedure is a smart way to prevent infections. You may ask yourself, “what exactly is hand hygiene?” This is the washing of hands that prevents antibodies and germs from being resistant to treatment. How would you do on a hand hygiene quiz? By students washing of the hands in a handwashing station, teachers can minimize the chance of getting sick on the job. In addition, having a clearly designed handwashing procedure can allow you to use class time efficiently.

The Solution

In order for children to feel successful at implementing handwashing procedures, it is important to think through and structure the process. In contrast, the undesirable results could result in a loss of instructional time, a flooded classroom and unsettled feelings.

A clear solution would solve issues such as:

  • Dripping wet hands
  • Dirty hands
  • Students playing with the soap, towel and other nearby items
  • Pushing and shoving of students at one sink
  • Slipping and student injury

Washing of Hands

Washing hands is something that should take place throughout the day. A procedure should be followed after dirty activities or the handling of food. In school, this occurs when children have snack time, lunch, recess or go to the bathroom. Children need to be reminded that washing their hands should always happen before they eat so that they don’t get sick.

Teaching Procedure Steps

Teaching students how and when to hand wash should take place on the first day of school. As this instruction takes place to be sure to stress the importance of washing their hands.

Harry and Rosemary Wong recommend that the procedure for teaching students to wash their hands takes place as follows…

  1. Announce to students that they are going to learn how to wash their hands
  2. Line up students and have them follow you to the handwashing station (sink)
  3. Have the teaching assistant to follow up the rear of the line to monitor whether or not students are following directions
  4. Students will approach the handwashing station (sink) and:
    • Turn the faucet on to the right
    • Press the liquid soap dispenser 1-2 times (in the student’s hand)
    • Introduce, and remind, students to rub hands with soap and water thoroughly
    • Turn to the left to turn off the faucet
    • Use a paper towel to dry the student’s hands
    • Toss the paper towel in the trash can
  5. Thank the child for following the procedure
  6. Ask the teaching assistant to direct the child where to go for the next activity
  7. Repeat with each child until the handwashing procedure has been taught.

Rehearse & Reinforce

Get the students to role play with you and pretend like it is time to wash their hands before snack time. Without using the soap and paper towels go through the motions with each child. Recognize each child when they complete the procedure successfully. As a matter of habit be sure to remind students why it is important to wash their hands. Be sure to guide students who veer from this procedure and redirect them to complete the process correctly.

The Hand Hygiene Quiz

Complete the Hand Hygiene Quiz to test yourself on your hand hygiene knowledge.

Q: True or False. Hand hygiene is the washing of the hands that prevents antibodies and germs from being resistant to treatment.

A: True

Q: True or False. Students should wash their hands at the same time to save instructional time.

A: False. Instructional time is valuable however, multiple students should not be using the sink at the same time. Rather have a few students at a time line up in single file (with the teaching assistant if possible) and wash their hands one at a time.

Q: True or False. Students should practice the handwashing procedure?

A: True. Students should role-play how to wash their hands early in the year so they are comfortable with what is expected of them.

Final Thoughts on Hand Hygiene

In conclusion, we have learned that good hand hygiene is a measure of action that keeps us from getting sick. We can protect our children and students by regularly using a handwashing procedure at the handwashing station in the classroom. Washing hands is not only a health issue for students but also teachers. Consider giving your students a hand hygiene quiz, or have them demonstrate the procedure, to see if learning has taken place. By taking this procedural step toward healthier living teachers will also find that they have found one useful tool in their classroom management toolkit.


6 Benefits of Proper Hand Washing: Alsco Australia. (2018, March 30). Retrieved from https://www.alsco.com.au/2017/07/benefits-proper-hand-washing/

Benefits of Hand Hygiene Campaigns. (2011, June 08). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/gpsc/national_campaigns/hand_hygiene/en/

Hand Hygiene. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.health.state.mn.us/handhygiene/

Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/index.html

Hand washing. (2019, July 29). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_washing

Karten, M. M. (Ed.). (2018, September). Hand Washing: Why It’s So Important (for Parents). Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hand-washing.html

Wong, H. K., Wong, R. T., Jondahl, S. F., & Ferguson, O. F. (2018). The classroom management book. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.

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