We’ve all been sick from time to time. Colds and the flu come along now and then, and they’re no fun when they keep us from doing the things we want to do. That’s why people try so hard to stay healthy.

Did you know that experts believe the most important thing you can do to avoid illness is wash your hands? It’s true!

Over half of cold and flu viruses can be killed by properly washing your hands at least three times each day.

Sometimes your hands may look clean when they really aren’t. Why? Germs and the bacteria that cause illnesses are tiny and invisible to the naked eye.

If you think about it, most of the stuff you do every day involves your hands. For fun, keep track of everything you do for a day.

If you do, you probably won’t believe how many things you touch. From faucets to light switches to toilet handles to doorknobs, a lot of the things we touch every day can contain germs and bacteria.

When you touch something with germs on it, the germs transfer to your hands. You can then transfer those germs to other things you touch. Luckily, it’s easy enough to break the cycle and stop spreading germs: Just wash your hands!

While washing your hands may seem like a no-brainer, there’s actually a proper way to wash your hands to make sure you kill all the germs. Just follow these simple steps:

1.       Wet your hands with warm water and then add soap.

2.       Rub your hands together and lather up for at least 20 seconds. Clean all the parts of your hands thoroughly, including your fingers, palms and wrists. Also, don’t forget to clean under your nails!

3.       Rinse your hands well.

4.       Dry your hands with a clean towel, paper towel or air dryer.

5.       Turn off the faucet with a towel to avoid touching it after washing your hands.

To stay healthy and keep bad germs away, wash your hands often. It’s especially important to remember to wash your hands at these times:

  • before eating or cooking
  • after using the bathroom
  • after touching animals
  • after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • after playing outside

So don’t give your parents a hard time the next time they ask you to wash your hands. They’re just trying to keep you healthy.

And parents, you are a great role model for your children, so wash your hands often, too. Remember: The 30 seconds you spend washing your hands could save you a trip to the doctor’s office!


16 Join the Discussion

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    • Those are great songs to sing while you wash your hands, Abby/MC! Using fun soaps with different colors and smells can also make hand-washing more fun!

      Everyone in Wonderopolis hopes you have a super great day! :-)

  1. I love using different smelly soaps! My favorite types are from bath and body works :) What’s your favorite scent?

    • We like all kinds of soapy scents, Abby/M.C.! There are so many to choose from – berry, citrus, flowers, fresh scent. We like them all! :-)

    • Hi, Alexis! Thanks for sharing your favorite scent with everyone today!

      Did you know that some soaps are made out of goat’s milk, and some even have oatmeal in them? Using soaps with different smells and ingredients makes washing our hands fun! :-)

    • Hi, Clayton! We think the song in the video is pretty catchy, though, don’t you think? We hope it will remind everyone how important it is to wash their hands! :-)

  2. OK, this is no help to a middle schooler. We should know to wash our hands, and if you don’t, that is gross! The toilets have germs on them, so wash your hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks for this awesome reminder about washing hands, Julia! We appreciate your comment…thanks for visiting this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • Hey there, Daniel! While soap may seem slippery, and even silly at times, soap is awesome! Without it, we wouldn’t be able to properly wash our hands, keep our bodies free of germs and dirt, and we probably wouldn’t smell so great all the time! We are glad you shared your comment and we hope you’ll keep WONDERing with us! What a great question… soap is simple, but it’s SUPER! :)

    • Great question, Armon! Some people like strong scented soaps, while others do not. Whether or not you use scented soaps or unscented soaps, it is always good practice to wash your hands with soap. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do you need to wash your hands?
  • How long should you wash your hands to kill all the germs?
  • When should you wash your hands?

Wonder Gallery

washing hands_shutterstock_21006121Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Since you’ve probably been touching the computer keyboard recently, you’d better wash your hands! (You didn’t think you’d get all the way through a Wonder of the Day about hand washing without trying it out, did you?)

But first… feel free to get your hands a little dirtier. If you’re going to practice washing them, we figure you might as well make sure they’re good and dirty first. Try out one of the following fingerprint/handprint crafts:

When your craft is finished and your hands are nice and dirty, grab the soap and head to the sink! Practice what you learned today about washing your hands.

If possible, show a friend or relative the correct way to wash your hands. And don’t forget to wash under your nails!

If you want to get a better idea of how germ-y some surfaces are, grab a potato and some sealable plastic bags, and try out this germs experiment. It takes a while to see the results, but you’ll be amazed at what you see. And don’t be surprised if you want to wash your hands much more often than before!


Still Wondering

Check out Science NetLinks’ Germs and the Body lesson to learn more about where germs exist, how they can get into and affect the body, and how the body defends itself against them.


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Wonder What’s Next?

Although most children can’t wait to get older, their parents often wish they could turn back the hands of time. Join us in Wonderopolis tomorrow, as we take a dip in the Fountain of Youth!

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