Handwashing is a big concern in the foodservice industry, but the problem exists elsewhere, and it starts early.

After teaching preschool, I know what the typical 3-5-year-old hand washing routine looks like.

To share my mental image with you, picture lunchtime at school. You start in the circle, and dismiss students one by one so they can use the restroom, wash their hands, and grab their lunch boxes. It seems simple enough, right? And to be fair, it is, even for students.

But no amount of cute photos above the sink or songs you sing, are going to remind a student to wash their hands for the correct amount of time, with the right amount of soap and water, when all they can think of, are the yummy snacks they have in their lunch box that they have been bragging about to their friends all morning.

When the classroom get’s too quiet, you take a peek around the corner to see how the handwashing is going, thinking, “wow they have been over there for a while, maybe they started to wash their hands for the right amount of time!” Sadly, this is never the case. Watching preschoolers wash their hands before lunch was like watching animals in the Sahara during dry season finding a watering hole after searching for days. Utter chaos.

We have splashing water, soap parties where the soap dispenser is drained to use as mirror paint or paint for every surface, the entire supply of paper towels on the floor or in the trash can, kids laughing at their friends who are playing with water by splashing it on themselves thus soaking their clothing; the list goes on. You name it, I saw it. It’s hilarious, but it’s utter chaos, and the germs still spread. With all that play near soap and water, those sticky little fingers were not getting washed the way they should.

Want to know something even more frightening than that preschool handwashing scene? According to the University of Utah Health Care, only 5% of all people, including adults, wash their hands correctly. That means 1 in 20 people are washing their hands correctly. So imagine yourself in a coffee shop with 20 people, only 1 person in that coffee shop has clean hands. For your sake, let’s hope it’s the barista.

The point is, people don’t take the 20 seconds it takes to do something as simple as washing their hands, and that is how germs are spread. And that goes for everyone, not just the preschoolers in room 6.

To properly wash your hands, you must:

  • Get your hands wet with clean water
  • Wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds (singing Happy Birthday in your head helps!)
  • Rinse your hands with clean water
  • Dry hands thoroughly with a clean towel

It seems simple enough, right?

Next time you use the restroom, prepare food, touch your face, etc., do us all a favor, and be that 1 person in 20 to wash your hands correctly. In fact, tell your friends and family so we can make that 5%, 100% so germs can’t spread. That way everyone stays healthy, safe, and happy, including you.

Click here for an info-graphic to post in your restaurant or classroom – hopefully, people read it and follow the rules, unlike my preschoolers.

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