National Clean Hands Week: Best Soaps for Handwashing

By Melissa Summers

I admit I’m not much of a germphobe in general. I think kids get sick and when my kids were little and getting cold after cold I comforted myself with the knowledge that I was exercising their immune systems and one day they wouldn’t catch every single virus they came in contact with.

For the most part this way of thinking has worked out well for us and my kids rarely get sick anymore. Of course, I tend to think this way about germs and viruses until I get sick and then I lay around whining and moaning about my burning throat. As I convalesce loudly I start telling the kids how from now on we’re washing our hands EVERY TIME WE COME HOME. That includes you Logan.

It’s lucky this week is National Clean Hands Week because it’s the second week of school and a very irritating virus has come to our home. I’d been fighting it off relatively well until last night when the burning throat and stuffed up itchy nose crossed over into “Actual Illness” rather than “Impression Of Illness”.

As I lay here, staring longingly at the Nyquil I plan to take just as soon as possible, it’s the perfect time to talk about handwashing because at this point I’m wishing I’d bathed in bleach to prevent this irritating cold.

The Centers For Disease Control says handwashing is the most important thing you can do to prevent illness. One study found that when school children had scheduled handwashings four times a day their gastrointestinal illnesses and absences were reduced by more than 50%.

Washing your hands (and washing them properly) doesn’t just prevent gastrointestinal illness. It also reduces the number of colds you or your child are likely to face and can prevent other more serious ills like meningitis and bronchiolitis.

But getting kids to wash their hands effectively can be difficult. I have a daughter who, when asked to wash her hands, has been known to run to the bathroom turn on the water and be back in 1.2 seconds. Color me ‘Skeptical’ but I just don’t think that’s an effective handwashing.

Which is why I really like the idea of Squid Soap, a soap dispenser designed to help kids thoroughly wash their hands. When your child presses down the dispenser’s pump, a small circle of ink is left on their hand. The ink is designed to wash off in the 15-20 seconds your child washes his hands.

The Squid Soap website says, “Also, the very stretchable squid toy is a blast to play with and will provide hours of entertainment.” That might be a bit of a marketing stretch, but then again I once caught my daughter licking the cat and when asked ‘Why are you doing that!!??” She said, ‘It’s fun!’ So maybe kids would like playing with a soap dispenser.
Kids are weird. offers up these suggestions for getting your kids to wash their hands regularly. Using colorful soaps meant just for kids. In our house foam soap is a big hit. If I could find a package with Spongebob on it even better. (See, the Character Effect even marks the soap industry.)


I’m also thinking this Peach Flower Soapsicles from PhilosoapySoaps would be fun for kids. It might be tempting to kids to try a bite, but I’m thinking they’ll do that once and probably never again.

If you ask your child to sing a little song, you’ll potentially keep them engaged long enough to effectively clean their hands. Maybe try the Alphabet Song, or something easier like, Shaft by Isaac Hayes. (PS: If you can teach your four-year-old to sing Shaft, you are duty bound to put it on You Tube.)

nailbrush.jpgUsing a nail brush to get grime out from under your nails is important in the same way flossing your teeth after you brush is important. Of course, like flossing it’s a step I often skip. For some reason my son gets dirt under his nails much more than my daughter ever has and so the nail brush step is more difficult to blow off. We use this nylon nail brush because it’s bristles are much softer than a regular nail brush. It also makes a great vegetable brush…just don’t use the same one for both tasks.

This cold is making me want to run out and join the Clean Hands Coalition. Not just join, I want to be President! I’m going to spread the word of germ free living one handwashing at a time! But then I realize I’m probably feverish and I can’t join any coalition in this condition. Instead I’ll take my Nyquil and hope tomorrow is a healthier day.

Mark your calendars: Monday September 25, is Family Day.

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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That squid soap would totally help my nephew who believes his morning shower doubles as a recent handwashing.


I’m a handwashing fanatic. And with cold and flu season upon us (it’s already started at our house), I’m also a huge fan of Germ-X (or Purell, or any hand sanitizer). I keep a large bottle in the kids bathroom and small bottles in my purse, in the diaper bag, and in my daughters’ school backpacks. They use it at school, and then refill their small bottles from the larger bottle at home.


I was considering purchasing a dispenser I saw in the Sharper Image catalog that dispenses soap and plays a little chime. Then I remembered being woken repeatedly by a particularly annoying electronic toy that would randomly go off by itself at 2 a.m. and reconsidered.


Great post! It can’t be said enough. WASH YOUR HANDS.
Why am I chiming in? Because two years ago my son got a turtle for his birthday. And since that time, I haven’t had a cold. My fear of salmonella has me washing my hands in an OCD manner.
So the cure for the common cold? Turtles.

Lisa (the girls' moma)

I love the baby powder idea! That’s a great one. I’m totally stealing that.
Hope you feel better soon!


My child? Did try to eat the soapsicle. What can I say…we’re short on smarts, but we’re germ-free. Now, if I could just get him to pick up his room. Without the anti-Mommy yelling at him. Any suggetions?


Um, wow. I pretty much wipe my family down with Clorox wipes and call it a day.
And I think even I would take a chance with that popsicle.


I’ve always been a bit of a germ freak — Purell, frequent handwashing, “Wet Ones” in my purse (who named those?) etc. — and now my 4 year old won’t even let me kiss her because she doesn’t want any “grease” from me, and she won’t sit next to me in the mornings until I’ve had a shower. I’ve created a monster. Needless to say, we’re trying to let up a little on the germ talk around here.