Personal Care Products

Washing hand with regular soap and running water is the best way to get hands clean and control the spread of germs. Handwashing is also important in reducing exposure to harmful contaminants that may be present in house dust, in soil, on pressure-treated wooden play structures, etc.

1. Wet your hands under running water. If assisting a child, wet your hands and those of the child at the same time.

2. Use bar or liquid soap and scrub hands well. Regular soap is all you need. Doctors advise against using antibacterial soaps. Remember to scrub the fronts and the backs of your (and the child’s) hands, under fingernails and between the fingers. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. That’s about as long as it takes to sing the ABC song once, or the Happy Birthday song twice!

3. Rinse hands thoroughly under running water.

4. Dry hands well with a clean towel or air dryer.

If a sink is not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best option to control the spread of germs. If using a hand sanitizer, look for products that list alcohol (typically ethyl or isopropyl alcohol) as the active ingredient and that do not have the words “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label.

For more information:

Canadian Paediatric Society:

Canadian Public Health Association:

CPCHE: Back to Basics with Hand-Washing: Say “No” to Antibacterial Soaps in Schools

CPCHE: Advancing Environmental Health in Child Care Settings: A Checklist for Child Care Practitioners and Public Health Inspectors (see Hand Hygiene, p. 38)

CPCHE: Your Child’s Skin May Act More Like a Sponge Than a Shield

CPCHE: What's on the Menu Today? Toys...gadgets...sticky fingers...toxic chemicals in dust?

Answer Author: 
Erica Phipps