Key practice: Hand washing with soap and water
Prevents hygiene-related diseases
Always wash your hands with clean water and soap before:
- preparing/serving/eating meals,
- before feeding children,
- after using the toilet/latrine
- after disposal of faeces, including children’s.
The simple habit of handwashing with soap protects children from hygiene related diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, among others.
Why is handwashing with soap and water important?
Parents and caregivers should wash their hands with soap and water at these critical moments: (1) after cleaning the infant or young child who has defecated, (2) after helping the child use the toilet or latrine, (3) after going to the latrine or toilet themselves, (4) before touching food and feeding young children, and (5) after dealing with refuse because:
- Washing hands with soap and clean running water kills and removes germs, leaving the hands clean.
- Most illnesses and deaths among children are because of germs, which get into the child’s mouth via food and water.
- Children often put their hands in their mouth therefore it is important to wash their hands with clean water and soap regularly, especially before giving them food.
- Care should be taken to prevent the spread of germs and so reduce illness and death through proper disposal of faeces and proper hand washing.
- Washing hands can also prevent infection with worms. Children are easily infected with worms, which deplete the body’s nutrients.
Rinsing the fingers with water is not enough – both hands need to be rubbed together with soap and water, and then rinsed with water. This helps to stop germs and dirt from getting onto food or into the mouth.
Benefits of handwashing with soap and water
- Washing hands frequently with soap and clean running water protects you, your family and community against diseases.