We're always trying to get the kids to wash their hands, especially now that the flu season is here. Is it lunchtime? Wash your hands. Finished with that ice cream cone? Wash your hands. Did you pick up that paper napkin from the floor of that public restroom? Ugh, wash your hands! Are you sniffling? Wash your hands! And get that finger out of your nose and wash your hands!
Doctors and medical professionals always tell us that washing hands frequently is one of the simplest and most effective ways of preventing the spread of germs and sickness. The CDC has some guidelines for the right way to wash your hands:
* Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
* Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
* Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice to a friend.
* Rinse hands well under running water.
* Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
But even with these guidelines, it's tempting to rush through the hand-washing process, especially if you're a kid and your Lego project is waiting upstairs for you. Unless I'm watching them like a hawk, they end up splashing a teaspoonful of water on their hands, or rubbing just a microdot of soap on their hands. That 20-second rule? You have no idea how quickly my kids can sing "Happy Birthday" when they're in a hurry. I recently reviewed a product that has really helped me and my kids do a much better job of washing our hands the right way: the Disney Musical Handwash Timer from Healthy Hands. Here's what we thought of it:
The Disney Musical Handwash Timer is a rubber cap that fits over most standard soap nozzles. When you push down on the pump to dispense your soap, you press down on the timer, which turns the music and lights on. The music and lights go off after 20 seconds, so your child knows exactly how long he needs to be scrubbing his hands. There are two versions of the product -- Disney Little Mermaid and Disney Cars -- and each unit will last through over 1,000 uses. The product costs $3.99.
This is one of those ideas that is so simple and brilliant that you wish you had thought of it yourself. We already use musical toothbrushes to help our kids brush their teeth for the right amount of time, so why not a musical timer for handwashing? It's perfect! Even when I'm not in the bathroom with them, I hear the music playing, so I know they're washing their hands, and washing them properly. The timer really keeps us honest -- I'm often tempted to shortcut my handwashing myself, but (20 seconds is longer than you think!). Even better, the timer has made handwashing fun, so the kids actually wash their hands more often.
This product is supposed to fit most kinds of liquid soap dispensers -- but it really only works best for the dispensers with thick, chunky soap pumps. The rubber needs to stretch out tight over the pump, otherwise it slips around from side to side, or slips off entirely. And the space between the timer and the soap pump quickly gets filled up with soap, which quickly turns into a chunky, gunky mess. Also, you need to remind your kids to turn off the faucet while they're scrubbing, because you don't want to be wasting all that water. Finally, parents beware -- that song can get pretty irritating!
The Bottom Line
The Disney Musical Hand Wash Timer is a wonderful way to get kids to wash their hands -- and wash them the right way. Just remember to buy a chunky soap dispenser!
I received a sample in order to review this product, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.