Do your kids know why it is so important to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water?

One pair of teachers has the perfect visual example for their students and they are sharing the results for everyone. Jaralee Metcalf and Dayna Robertson did an experiment with their class, comparing how quickly bread molds with various levels of clean hands, to show how much dirt and bacteria is really on your hands daily.

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In this experiment, the teachers used a loaf of regular white bread, touching a piece with either unwashed hands, hands washed with soap and water, or hands cleaned with hand sanitizer. A fourth piece of bread was wiped on one of the classroom’s laptop computers before it was sanitized. The fifth piece was carefully set aside as a control piece.

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Courtesy of Jaralee Annice Metcalf

What did they learn?  That the old standby of soap and water is really the best course of action!

After completing the experiment, the bread touched by unwashed hands and the bread that was wiped on the laptops were excessively moldy and gross.  The bread touched by hands cleaned with hand sanitizer was better than nothing at all, but still moldy.

Courtesy of Jaralee Annice Metcalf

Only the bread that was touched by soap and water clean hands was close to the control piece.  If that’s not enough to make everyone wash their hands well, we don’t know what it will take.

Courtesy of Jaralee Annice Metcalf

Now that it’s cold and flu season, remind your kids to keep washing their hands, using soap and warm water.  Many teachers suggest singing a simple song to themselves while washing, like the alphabet song or Happy Birthday, to make sure they are washing long enough!

Hand sanitizer is great in a pinch, but as the experiment shows, it doesn’t do quite as good a job as regular soap and water.

Besides hand washing, what other tips do you use to keep your kids healthy all winter long?

Need more convincing? Even the Experts Say You Aren’t Washing Your Hands Right!

Make sure to thank your teachers! Check out our list of teacher appreciation week gift ideas!

More science fun!

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