Know how to wash hands properly

While our printable hand washing poster for preschoolers is a handy tool for parents and kids, it’s worth taking a moment to ensure you’re up-to-date on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It details the five steps for hand washing:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Then turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or use an air dryer to blow them dry.

Count to 20

When you’re juggling potty training and all the other things you need to accomplish each day, pausing for 20 seconds might sound like a lot. And let’s be honest: While we know we’re supposed to wash our hands that long, many adults probably don’t scrub for the recommended time. But now that you have a little one watching — and kids love to mimic their parents — it’s important to follow the rules.

Practice figuring out how long 20 seconds is before you start teaching your child about hand washing. While you could use a timer at each bathroom trip, many families find songs work well. “Happy Birthday,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” usually take about that long to sing. 

Make a game of it

Teaching hand washing — like any other step of the potty training routine — can be more engaging for kids if you try a game. Consider one of these potty training games that introduces the steps in the bathroom to your toddler:

  • Build-a-Bathroom Puzzle. This puzzle gets kids to learn and label all the tools they’ll use in the bathroom including the flush handle, soap and towels. It’s a great game to play before you’ve started potty training, but you can do it together at any other time too.
  • Pulls-Ups® Scavenger Hunt. This hide-and-seek game can help get your child motivated to use the potty and wash up properly afterward. You’ll hide potty-related items such as soap and Pull-Ups® training pants around the house.
  • Potty Time Sequence Cards. These potty training flash cards can help your child think about all the steps of using the potty.

Celebrate hand washing successes

Often times we focus on the big moments: when kids actually pee or poop in their potty chair or the toilet. But there are lots of other moments to celebrate too including your toddler remembering to wash their hands on their own. These fun potty training tools can help you recognize the moments:

  • Coloring mat. With designs of your child’s favorite characters — just like on Pull-Ups® training pants — the inside of Pull-Ups® boxes contain coloring mats that help teach your child. If you don’t have the box, our printable coloring sheets are a fun way for your child to practice their ABCs and 123s. You could print one out and use it as a reward for an accomplishment. Or just use it for some time coloring time together.
  • Sticker charts. Some kids love to watch their successes build up on a sticker chart. Download our sticker chart — designed with some of your child’s favorite characters — and let your child color it in before you hang it on the bathroom wall or door. Then figure out how your child will earn stickers. If you have a child who’s always looking for something new, consider surprising them with a new pack of stickers every week or two.

While hand washing is a key part of the potty training process, it’s a skill that your child will need at other moments too for years to come. Be sure to tell them about other scenarios when it’s important to wash their hands including after they blow their nose, cough or sneeze — and before eating. And be sure you’re modeling good behavior! Kids love to mimic, and there’s no one they want to copy more than Mom or Dad.