Hand Washing vs. Hand Sanitizer: Which One Gets Your Child’s Hands Cleaner?
As parents, we cringe when we think of all the germs kids come into contact with on a daily basis. If we had a dollar for every time we reminded our youngsters to clean their hands, we could solve our national debt crisis! Well … maybe not. Nevertheless, there are many benefits to having clean hands; the most important being that it lessens your child's chance of getting sick. So, are hand sanitizers the best way for your child to clean his hands; or, is traditional soap and water the way to go?
Benefits of Hand Washing
According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand sanitizers are effective in reducing the number of germs on our hands, but they do not eliminate all germs. They are also ineffective when your child’s hands are visibly dirty. The CDC maintains that washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on hands. They do, however, recommend the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol when water is not available.
How to Effectively Wash Hands
One problem that arises with children and hand washing is they often rush through the process. The CDC recommends scrubbing the hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. A fun way to encourage thorough hand washing is to have your child sing the entire “Happy Birthday” song twice before turning off the water. After washing, be sure a clean towel is available for your child to dry her hands with.
Benefits of Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer definitely has the advantage of being convenient. As parents, we have all been in situations that called for a travel-sized bottle of sanitizer. For instance, after changing the baby's diaper in the mall parking lot, or after petting the goats at the local farm, hand sanitizer can be a lifesaver. The Mayo Clinic agrees that hand sanitizer is perfectly fine for children to use, especially when soap and water are not available.
How to Effectively Use Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer has the potential to be dangerous if your child ingests it. Therefore, it is important to provide supervision when your child is using any hand sanitizing product. Also, make sure that these products are stored out of the reach of small children. In addition, The Mayo Clinic advises parents to remind their children to let the sanitizer dry completely before touching anything.