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Proper hand washing revisited
Donna Krug

I hope you won’t turn the page before giving a quick read to this week’s column. There is no doubt that your life has been affected by the threat Covid-19 poses in our community. A common sense practice that we all need to brush up on is something we have done our entire life; hand washing. So allow me to break down the steps to this important ritual that can slow or even stop the spread of germs.

1. Wet your hands with warm water. Too many times when I’m working with kids they go right for the soap, but it’s hard to get a good lather if you haven’t gotten your hands wet first.

2. Next add a squirt of soap and begin to lather up. Try singing the following song with little ones to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?” Speaking from experience, kids love this song! Tops and bottoms, tops and bottoms, in-between, in-between, All around your hands, all around your hands, Now they’re clean, now they’re clean. Singing this song, (with actions of course) should take around 20 seconds, which is the perfect amount of time. Make sure you pay special attention to both the front and back of your hands as well as the cuticle area where germs can hide.

3. Now you are ready to rinse your hands. Warm water is best for this step.

4. Finally, use a single use paper towel to dry your hands. If a cloth towel is used change it often.

Now that your hands are clean, make sure you refrain from touching your face or hair. If you use a tissue or sneeze or cough into your hand it’s back to the sink for more hand washing. Kids (and adults too) need to be reminded that after playing with a pet or coming in from an outdoor activity requires hand washing. Before and after eating, when doing food prep, and after using the restroom are other times requiring hand washing. And of course, if you are a caregiver for someone who is under the weather, you will be washing your hands even more often.

I am often asked about the use of hand sanitizer as a substitute for washing with soap and water. The hand sanitizer should only be used when it is the only option available. Soap and warm water is best.

Take some time to review and practice hand washing with your kids; it will be time well-spent.

Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. Contact her at 620-793-1910 or