Healthcare, Medical, Medicine

How Do You Get Kids To Wash Their Hands For 20 Seconds?

It might not be easy to get your kids used to wash their hands for the required 20 seconds as per the CDC guidelines but it is not impossible! In this article, we will go over a few techniques and tools that can help you teach your kids essential hygiene habits and keep them safe from bacteria and Viruses – at least the ones accumulating on their hands. So let’s get to it:

Build Essential Hygiene Habits -Make Sure Your Kids Understand Why They Should Wash their Hands For At Least 20 Seconds.

There are many resources on the web (especially videos) that will explain to your kids what they should wash their hands properly. Here are a few learning resource videos you can show your kids to help them understand the benefits of washing their hands to stay healthy:

  1. Vox has quite an informative video with animations explaining why kids and adults alike should wash their hands for 20 seconds:
  2. Science Insider also has a nice animated video explaining why handwashing and clean hands are such an important step to stay healthy:
  3. Hamilton Health Sciences also has a really interesting Video on how to wash hands correctly and kill germs:

So start by showing your little person these videos to help them understand the many benefits of clean hands and lay the foundation for teaching them new handwashing skills.

Poppy Pig - Foam Soap Dispenser with built in 20 second handwashing timer

Teach Your Kids to Wash Their Hands For 20 Seconds

Get a 20-Second Handwashing Timer with Visual and Audio Cues For This Cold And Flu Season

One of the tools that are essential if you want your kids to properly wash their hands is a Handwash timer. I know people have a number of ways to time their washes like singing Happy Birthday or counting etc.

The truth is that this doesn’t work – at all. Kids and Adults alike are really bad at estimating time. And let’s face it – everyone counts and sings at different speeds.

There are a number of different handwash timers on the market that all use different approaches to solve the hand washing problem. They vary from audio cues to visual Cues(Flashing lights or Blue Light). Here are a few hand wash Timers in order of how I like them:

  1. Poppy Pig – Smart Handwash timer and Foam Soap Dispenser Combination that encourages hand washing.
  2. Ginsey Baby Shark Soap Pump – Hand washing timer that fits onto soap dispenser.
  3. Learning resources 20 Second handwashing timer – Compact hand timer with a bright blue light.
  4. Time Wash – This interactive timer provides visual and audio cues for the different stages of Hand Washing.
  5. Honwell Musical Timer for Kids – Two in one handwash timer and toothbrush timer for healthy kids.

What I really like about no 1 & 2 is that they automatically start the timer when the soap is dispensed. This makes it impossible for my kids (and us) to forget to start the timer or to start it early or late. I found that it made it just so much easier to use and ensure everyone has healthy hands.

The Learning Resources Timer has a fun aspect to it with the light turning on and the music. But my kids often forget to activate it – You know kids – always distracted and not even the fun soap bubbles timers can change that.

Scroll down to the last part of this article for reviews and pictures of the different timers. If you find a review helpful, please comment and let me know.


Decorated with Fun Soap - great indicator of Good Habits

Hand Washing Should Be Fun For Smaller Kids

Make Handwashing Fun (For Smaller Kids)

The most important thing, especially with smaller kids is to make handwashing so much fun that it doesn’t feel like a chore to them. 20 Seconds feels like a really long time if you are not having fun…

For smaller children, it helps if you can turn healthy hands into a game – Grab soap, start scrubbing, and rinse when the timer beeps. Turning handwashing into a fun experience will definitely help your kids this cold and flu season.

Visual and Audio Cues definitely help build essential hygiene habits. So if you can make games with fun soap bubbles or fun interactive timers it will help with healthy kids.

Even Compact Spaces can accommodate a timer

Hand Wash Timers Are essential for clean hands.

Remove The Friction To Wash Hands For 20-Seconds (For Older Kids)

Older kids are unfortunately not as easy to catch with the “Fun” handwashing narrative so for them, we need to remove the friction in washing your hands. I found the biggest issue with my kids is not that they mind washing their hands but that they do not wash them for long enough.

I tried using different timers (iPhone, apple watch, handwashing timer from learning resources) but the biggest issue is that they are so distracted with their phones and their lives that they forget (or refuse) to set the timer.

I solved that problem by going to one of the timers that start automatically when they take the soap. They have to take soap to clean their hands and that starts the timer – problem solved. Another added benefit if the timer has sound is that I can see if they exit the bathroom before the timer’s beep so I know whether they washed long enough.

Fun Soap Bubbles Timers Vs Hand Sanitizer

Soap And Water Is Better Than Hand Sanitizer


What is better: Washing Hands With Soap And Water Or Hand Sanitizer?

The answer is hands down – Soap! Washing with water and soap is not only the most effective way of killing bacteria and viruses but it is also the healthiest way. The alcohol in most hand sanitizer is not great for human skin – especially the softer asking of young kids. Alcohol dries the skin out.

Another issue with Alcohol-based hand sanitizers is that the alcohol can disperse before it reaches all the germs in all the little nooks and crannies on hands.

Science has proven that the best way of keeping hands clean and healthy is by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Especially during cold and flu season!

Soap Bubbles Timers also form healthy habits

Kids in Classrooms need healthy Hand Washing Habits


Can a Hand Washing Timer Help Keep Classrooms Healthy?

Yes, a 20-second handwashing timer in a classroom will help kids build essential hygiene habits. Whether it activates when the soap is collected or if they simply tap the timer to activate it before they start scrubbing, keeping classrooms healthy during cold season will be much easier if students stick to the important step of using a 20-second handwashing timer.

Help your students wash their hands in classrooms or wherever sinks are.

Handwash Timer Review


Reviews of 20-second handwashing timers to help your kids reach their recommended handwashing goals:

1) Poppy Pig – $29.95 on Amazon  (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Poppy is a hand wash timer built into a smart automatic foam soap dispenser. The nice thing about Poppy is that it starts timing the moment the soap is squirted into the hands, making it impossible to forget to set the timer.

Poppy was designed as a cute piggy to help make the hand washing process fun for smaller kids. It is ideal for home bathrooms, classrooms, or wherever you need a cute handwash timer to help kids hit their recommended handwashing goals.



What do we love about this 20-second handwashing timer?

Poppy looks great and works great. Because the timer starts when the soap is squirted in the hand it fits in nicely with the flow of hand washing. Open the tap, rinse hands, get soap, scrub and wait for the beep to rinse. It removes the friction of having to remember to set a timer for hand washing.

This little piggy looks especially good in spaces decorated with fun in mind like classrooms or wherever sinks serve a lot of children and the aim is to make handwashing more fun. Poppy emits a little beep when the 20 seconds are up and rinsing should start. A benefit of the little beep in communal bathrooms, classrooms, or wherever there are a group of kids is that kids are more likely to wash for the full 20 seconds as everyone can see if you started rinsing before the little beep.

With 33 5-Star ratings on Amazon, this hand washing timer will keep kids super excited and make sure they have healthy hands during the next flu season. It is ideal to keep classrooms healthy during cold epidemics. This interactive timer provides visual cues for passing time with the lights in Poppy Pig’s nose flashing.

Poppy uses 4 rechargeable batteries (Not included) and can be filled with your favorite foam hand soap.

2) Ginsey Baby Shark Soap Pump – $5.99 on Amazon (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This little 20-second handwashing timer is designed to fit onto most of the manual soap dispensers in the market. This makes it very easy to use – the affordable price of the unit doesn’t hurt either so if you don’t have the budget for a smart automatic soap dispenser with a built-in timer, this is the ideal solution.

Baby Shark Hand Washing Timer

Honwell 20 Second handwashing Timer

The Baby Shark Soap Pump is definitely my second favorite as it activates when the soap is squirted into the hand, making it impossible to mess it up or forget to start timing the handwash. I think that is a great help in keeping kids washed up. That and a lot of fun soap bubbles.

3) 20 Second Handwashing Timer from Learning Resources – $9.99 on Amazon (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The handwashing timer from Learning Resources is a cheaper option designed to also get kids washing their hands for the appropriate amount of time. This little timer fits neatly in any bathroom because of its compact size. Kids wanting to reach their handwashing goals simply tap the timer to start it and off they go.

Learning Resources

Learning Resources Hand Wash Timer

The only problem I found with tapping this 20-second handwashing timer is that when kids are distracted they might forget to tap the timer or maybe they tap the timer and only then take the soap – cutting into the recommended handwashing goals.

The timer comes in blue decorated with fun soap bubbles on the top. It is a fun interactive timer that works well in compact spaces and kids simply tap the timer to start the countdown. Since the learning resources handwashing timer is one of the cheaper 20-second handwashing timers on the market.

4) Time Timer Wash – $21.99 on Amazon (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Time Timer Wash is a handwash timer that takes kids through the process of washing hands by emitting a double beep for every phase of the handwashing process. This fun interactive timer only has one drawback and that is that the user has to remember to activate it before washing and with kids, this can be a problem.

Time Timer

Time Timer

The disappearing disk breaks down handwashing into 3 simple steps – apply soap on your hands, scrub hands and rinse thoroughly. It has the option of background music or sound and takes aaa batteries.

5) Honwell Musical Timer for Kids – $17.99 on Amazon (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

To activate the Honwell 20-second handwashing timer kids simply press the button for the handwashing timer and wash while the music plays.

Honwell Hand And Toothbrush Timer

Honwell Hand Wash And Toothbrush Timer

The Honwell 20 second handwashing timer also has 2-minute teeth brushing timer built into the same device. But while I believe any timer is better than no timer to help kids hit their recommended handwashing goals, the Honwell is definitely last on my list of favorite hand wash timers.

It has to be attached to the mirror, probably putting it out of reach of smaller kids.

The Most Important Thing Is That You Teach Your Kids Good Hand Hygiene Habits early On! Good luck With That

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