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Handwashing 101: How to become a handwashing artist!


(Teppei Ogawa/123RF; Sharon Gardener/CBC)

Let’s talk handwashing!

I know, you’ve probably heard a lot about it. Bet your parents and teachers are always telling you to wash your hands! And maybe your hands are already getting kind of dry from all that washing! But it’s an easy (and splashy) way to keep you and the people (and pets and toys and imaginary friends) around you safe.

So to cover all our bases, why not take a look at the essential art that is handwashing. What? It is an art! There’s a technique to it. And by the end of this post, you will all be great handwashing artists!

The how-to

Now what’s that technique? Well the World Health Organization ⁠— which is an agency that’s part of the United Nations that focuses on the world’s health ⁠— has given us 12 steps to follow to make sure those hands are squeaky clean!

You can also use our handy illustrated guide to make sure you’ve got these steps down. Click it to see it bigger and to print it out to stick by your sink if you need a reminder. Steps to follow to wash your hands

Interlace and interlock and wiggle all about!

  1. Get those hands wet! Soak ‘em!
  2. Use enough soap to totally cover them. Coat them like a glove!
  3. Rub palm to palm like a supervillain! Mwahahahaha!
  4. Put one palm over the back of your other hand and interlace fingers (that means fit the fingers of one hand between the spaces of the other). Locked and loaded! Then switch and repeat.
  5. Now interlace fingers palm to palm and wiggle about!
  6. Make two fists and interlock fingers (that means fitting your fingers together in the opposite hand’s palm). Self fist bump!
  7. Make a fist around your opposite hand’s thumb and wiggle it around in a circle. Grip and twist! Then repeat switching fists (and thumbs).
  8. Pretend there’s a little friend in one palm and pet it in a circle, backwards and forwards, with the fingers of your other hand. Repeat switching hands (and little friends).
  9. Time to rinse! (That’s where the splashy, splashy part comes in.)
  10. Use paper towel to get those hands super dry!
  11. Then turn off the faucet with the same paper towel.
  12. You have the cleanest hands in all the land! Ta-da!

And you know the best part of clean hands? Celebrating that they’re clean! For that you'll need some music, which brings us to our next point.

The lyrics to lil Nas X's Old Town Road that you can wash your hands to

The songs

Have you heard? There can be a bit of music involved in washing your hands. Sounding more and more like an art, huh?

When you’re putting the steps above into action, you want to make sure you take at least 20 seconds to wash your hands. Now, that is the same as singing Happy Birthday To You twice, but we can save that tune for actual birthdays and swap it for a few others.

That’s right, there are other songs (any songs!) you can sing to so you don’t have to sing about birthdays every time you wash your hands. We can all find our favourite hits and wash our hands to them, as long as it takes at least 20 seconds!

There’s a little Old Town Road from Lil Nas X (click the picture to the side to see the lyrics with our handwashing guide in big) — but if you’re into theatre, another recommendation is the chorus of My Shot from the hit-musical Hamilton! What song would you try? Maybe some Lizzo? Or a little Lady Gaga?

The bonus

You’re so close to being the healthy handwashing artist that’s inside of you! There are just a few more tips to remember. If you can pull it all together, it’ll be like crafting a masterpiece!

Germ-fighting power!

  1. Wash those hands after the bathroom or being in public. That means sing a little 20-second tune with some suds if you have to go outside!
  2. Feel a sneeze or cough coming along? You may look like Dracula doing it, but make sure to aim for the inside of your elbow so the germs don’t get loose!
  3. Hands off the face! Germs love to get in through your eyes, nose and mouth so do your best to keep your hands away from your face (so no nose picking!). Maybe walk around like a penguin with your arms at your side to remember!
  4. How about an elbow bump? You’ll look like a giant bird doing a fist bump with their wing! Remember it’s all about stopping the spread of germs, so skip the hug or high five for something a little less handsy and a lot more creative!

You’ve done it! You are officially an artiste! Magnifique! We may have already celebrated with some handwashing songs, but you can never be too excited about staying safe and keeping healthy!

Now let’s get that indoor dance party on!