Germ Illustration

Hand Hygiene

Frequent hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Two effective methods are hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) that contains at least 60% alcohol. ABHR should only be used under supervision in child care centres and it should not be used when hands are visibly dirty/soiled or when hands are wet.

If children are too young to wash their hands themselves, do it for them. Supervise older children when they wash their hands. Show the child how to wash their hands correctly if they do not know or have forgotten. Remind the child that washing hands will help to keep them from getting sick.

A large common basin for children to rinse hands after activities should not be used. Children should wipe hands with a paper towel then go to a sink and wash their hands with soap and running water.

Staff should wash their hands:

  • when they arrive at work;
  • before preparing or serving food;
  • after diapering a child, cleaning up messes, or wiping a nose;
  • after using the washroom;
  • after assisting a child in the washroom;
  • after sneezing or coughing;
  • before leaving work and upon their arrival at home.

Children should wash their hands (or have them washed):

  • when they arrive at the child care centre;
  • before they eat or drink;
  • after they use the toilet or have their diapers changed;
  • after sneezing or coughing. Teach children to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough.

Individual cloth towels may be used if each child has a clean one every time they wash their hands. Towels must go into the laundry after every use.

How to Wash Hands


Turn on warm water and wet hands.


Apply soap liberally.


Create lather, rubbing all areas of hands and forearms
vigorously for 20 seconds.


Rinse with fingers pointing toward the drain.


Dry hands with paper towel.


Turn off the taps with a towel and place the soiled towel in the garbage.
Using a towel to turn off the taps prevents recontamination of your hands.

Last modified: February 19, 2020