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Publication #FCS8783

Proper Hand Washing for School Children1

Amy Simonne2

Germs can hide under long fingernails and on dirty hands. Keeping your fingernails short and washing your hands often, are the most important things you can do to stop germs from making you sick. Germs that cause illnesses such as colds, flu, diarrhea, and vomiting can get on your hands from touching things around you. People, pets, raw foods, toys, soil, and objects used in our daily lives can all have germs on them. When you wash your hands properly it helps remove germs from your hands.

Figure 1. 

Keep your fingernails short. If you need to, ask an adult for help cutting fingernails.

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Figure 2. 

Wet your hands under running water, then add soap.

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Figure 3. 

Rub your hands together with soap while singing the Happy Birthday song twice.

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Figure 4. 

Rinse your hands under running water.

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Figure 5. 

If you are in a public restroom, use a paper towel to turn off the water.

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Figure 6. 

Dry your hands with clean, disposable paper towels.

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Wash your hands before:

  • Eating and snacking

  • Drinking

  • Preparing foods

  • Touching your mouth

Wash your hands after:

  • Visiting the restroom

  • Coughing or sneezing on your hands

  • Playing outdoors

  • Handling pets

  • Doing other activities that dirty your hands



This document is FCS8783, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date February 2006. Revised December 2008. Reviewed August 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.


Amy Simonne, Ph.D., professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.