Parents admit kids still don’t wash their hands even after using the toilet

PARENTS have admitted that it’s still a struggle getting their kids to wash their hands after using the toilet.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Brits have repeatedly been told to wash their hands.

Ministers urged people to sing ‘happy birthday’ twice in order to make sure they were washing their hands for enough time.

But despite public health messages around handwashing, parents are still struggling to get their little ones to wash their dirty palms.

During a typical day kids wash their hands around six times, with their parents washing them eight times or more, new research has found.

On a usual day at home, parents say their kids have their grubby paws on surfaces the most just after lunchtime at 1pm.

Kids are then touching the toilet, fridge and handles without cleaning their hands.

The study, commissioned by hand hygiene experts Carex, found a quarter of parents aren’t completely sure they’ve even taught their children how to wash their hands properly.

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Key findings of the report discovered that more than a fifth of kids only wash their hands up to three times a day.

It also found that as many as three in 10 parents struggle to get their children to brush their teeth while 24 per cent said washing their child’s hair is often a battle. 

Following the findings, presenter, singer and mum to three young boys, Kimberley Walsh opened the doors of her family home to microbiological expert, Dr Jonathan Cox to reveal how many surfaces her little ones (Bobby, 7, Cole, 5 and Nate eight months) touch in the space of an hour. 

Experts swabbed sink taps, door knobs and other surfaces, only to find a range of bacteria.

Dr Jonathan Cox, senior lecturer in microbiology at Aston University, who conducted the tests of Kimberley’s home said our homes are full of bacteria.

He explained that almost all of them won’t do us any harm at all and it’s very usual to find them in family homes.

Dr Cox said: “But it’s best that we don’t ingest these bacteria, as they can potentially do us harm and make us ill, and without a laboratory and study like this, we can’t see them.

We come into contact with so many different bacteria from objects and contact surfaces in our homes – many might not have to be considered ‘dirty’ but we can still pick up bacteria from them

“Proper hand washing with an anti-bacterial hand wash and warm water is the most effective way to avoid these bacteria.

“People often forget their fingertips when washing hands, which is of course a major point of contact and we found this in the bathrooms where low levels of gut bacteria were detected on the light switches. 

“Other areas of high bacterial contamination included the games controller and kitchen worktop around the taps – where Staphylococcus aureus was found, which is frequently found in our nostrils.”

He said that the study highlights why it’s so important to wash your hands regularly.

“We come into contact with so many different bacteria from objects and contact surfaces in our homes – many might not have to be considered ‘dirty’ but we can still pick up bacteria from them.”

After the visit, Kimberly said she was shocked at the results of the touch test, and that you never really know what’s lying on the surfaces of your home.

“This has shown me just how important it is to make sure our hands are protected 24/7.

“The boys are always going to be getting stuck into life hands first and it’s a relief to know that using Carex is helping to keep them safe and clean as we continue to get out and about”, she said.

When should you wash your hands?

Hand washing is key to preventing to spread of bugs and germs.

The NHS says there are key times when you should wash your hands:

  • after using the toilet or changing a nappy
  • before and after handling raw foods like meat and vegetables
  • before eating or handling food
  • after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
  • before and after treating a cut or wound
  • after touching animals, including pets, their food and after cleaning their cages

They added that you should wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing happy birthday twice, for around twenty seconds.

The best way to wash your hands is to wet your hands with water and then cover them in soap or hand wash.

Then rub your hands together before using one hand to rub the back of the other hand and clean in between the fingers. Do the same with the other hand.

You should then clean in-between your fingers, rub the back of your fingers against your palm and rub both thumbs.

Next you should rub the tips of your fingers in the palm of your hands before rinsing your hands and drying them thoroughly with water.

The survey also found a third of parents have found it’s been harder to get kids to maintain good hand hygiene since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six in 10 mums and dads said they worry about their offspring bringing an illness into their house if they don’t wash their hands properly when out and about.

Parents identified the most difficult handfuls of time to get their kids to wash their paws was before eating (27 per cent), after using the loo (25 per cent) and after school (23 per cent).

Half even consider a child’s hygiene abilities equally as important as their social skills.

But four in 10 believe having a good education in handwashing will increase confidence in their children when it comes to getting dirty – as they’ll be aware they can clean up afterwards, according to the figures.

Ian Henderson, head of brand, Hand Hygiene, PZ Cussons said it was really interesting to see the comparison parents made between hygiene and social skills.

He added: “It’s vitally important to children’s development to be on top of both, so that they can experience life to the fullest.

“We wanted to highlight just how important hand washing is, in all areas of home life, not just to protect against Covid-19 but all manner of bugs.

“You never know what pesky bits are hiding on your surfaces, so why not play it safe by encouraging kids to be extra clean, giving them the freedom to thrive.

“Carex is happy to be parent’s little helper, at home or on the go, by giving both parents and kids the resources to thrive no matter what the obstacle.”

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