Protect your family from nasty germs with good hygiene practices that start with a thorough handwashing routine.

“Achoo!” Wait, was that a sneeze from little Michael? “Oh noooooo,” you pray that it’s not the start of a flu outbreak in the household. As parents, we know that all it takes is one teeny tiny sneeze or cough from one teeny tiny human being to start a major illness spreading to everyone at home ― and beyond.

Let’s face it, taking care of ailing children is no walk in the park. Nor is taking time off from your busy work schedule to tend to your sick child or if the older kids miss an important exam because she’s ill.

Ailments such as the stomach flu, cold, influenza or even the dreaded hand, foot and mouth disease are very common these days. So much so that parents are resigned to the fact that it’s part and parcel of having children. However, what many don’t realise is that they can protect their little ones from catching these infectious diseases in the first place.

“The simple act of frequently and properly washing your hands remains the most effective protection against infection.”

How, you ask? By teaching them hygiene etiquette: Cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze into the fold of your arm instead of the palm of your hands, wear a face mask, and mostly importantly ― shower regularly, especially since we have such hot weather, and wash your hands frequently!

Dr Maciej Piotr Chlebicki, a senior consultant in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Singapore General Hospital has noted, “The simple act of frequently and properly washing your hands remains the most effective protection against infection.”

Germs are lurking everywhere and can’t be seen by the human eye. By keeping hands clean, we can avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others as many diseases are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Many of us are aware that we should wash up before and after meals and after using the toilet, touching an animal or sneezing into our hands.

Hand washing is a simple act that offers tremendous benefits. But it’s not enough to just quickly rinse your hands under a running tap. The key is to make sure you’re washing and drying them correctly, so that you get rid of all the grime.

Read on to learn effective handwashing tips…


Here’s a short, step-by-step routine to keep hands clean. It’s also easy enough for your kewpie to remember, so she can do it independently in time.


First prop your little one on a stool, so that she is at the right height to the sink and tap. Warm water kills bacteria more effectively. Not too hot though, otherwise it will scald or dry out your sweetie’s hands. Also, make sure the right amount of water is flowing out. Rub hands together to get them wet.


The only thing more important than washing your hands is to use a good anti-bacterial hand soap. Pick a foamy one as it usually contains moisturisers. Another bonus: Kid’s love foam, so it will encourage them to wash more often. Good anti-bacterial soaps are also made from chemical-free ingredients and are tough on germs, yet gentle on your hands.

“Don’t rub your hands together while drying as this brings bacteria previously embedded within your skin back to the surface.”


With the tap turned off, rub hands making sure to lather the back and under the fingernails to release any trapped dirt. Keeping you r kiddo’s nails short also ensure that they stay dirt free. Scrub hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Junior doesn’t know how long 20 seconds is? Teach her to sing this helpful and catchy hand-washing song. She should ideally be washing her hands for the duration of this tune. Turn the tap back on again and rinse thoroughly to remove soap and dirt.


Don’t skip this step as it can make all the difference. Nor should you just wipe your hands on your clothes. Pat dry your hands on a clean towel (remember to change this towel frequently) or paper towels, or dry under a hand dryer in a public toilet. By the way, don’t rub your hands together while drying as this brings bacteria previously embedded within your skin back to the surface.

Besides regular handwashing, good hygiene practices also demand that we shower at least once a day. This is especially true as we live in a hot and humid tropical climate that sees us sweating a lot and also for people who are exposed regularly to germs, particularly in public places such as the MRT, buses, as well as offices and schools. So, we need to bathe daily to stay fresh, so as to avoid odour, germs and infections. Observing overall cleanliness and good personal hygiene is important for maintaining a sense of self-confidence, too.

Photos: iStock

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