Kids have the darndest habit of fighting good hygiene, tooth and nail. (Literally.) As parents, we’ve always tried to convey that cleanliness is next to godliness but these days, our kid’s fingernail funk has taken on new significance. And while you know that a good wash is essential for public and personal safety, getting your mini onboard is a hard sell. There’s a workaround, though, and it will be music to your ears. Just pick your favorite jam from our roundup of the best hand-washing songs for kids and breathe a sigh of relief knowing your little one will soap up with a smile. (Just don’t blame us if the songs get stuck in your head for the rest of the day week.)
But before you lather up, here are the official hand-washing guidelines from the CDC to keep in the back of your mind at every bathroom battle:
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (See below for some fun hand-washing songs that will help your kid do the full stint.)
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
1. Baby Shark Hand-Washing Song
So your kiddo has an aversion to the onerous task of personal hygiene. Don’t even try to force a strong-willed child to drink the hand washing Kool-Aid. Instead, play “Baby Shark” and we promise your little one will be much more pliable. This ditty does the job without hammering in the hand-washing message, so it’s ideal for any situation where thorough scrubbing requires a little bait-and-switch strategy. (It’s also guaranteed to be on repeat in your head for the next hour but hey, it’s a small price to play for muck-free paws.)
2. The Wiggles' Hand-Washing Song
If you haven’t already watched the Wiggles in action, this hand-washing tune might inspire you to make room in your screen time rotation. This whimsical team of entertainers has a knack for making the mundane seem riotously silly, and their hand-washing tutorial is no exception. Introduce the video at the same time as the song, and these quirky characters will deliver the message for you—and some laughs too.
3. Tops and Bottoms (Frère Jacques Hand-Washing song)
Here’s a hand-washing number, sung to the familiar tune of “Frère Jacques,” that even the youngest kiddos will catch on to quickly. The lyrics capture some salient points (“tops and bottoms...in between”) and repetition makes for instruction that really sticks. Who knew a repurposed nursery rhyme could solve the problem of partially-washed paws?
4. CDC Happy Hand-Washing Song (Happy Birthday)
Brought to you straight from the source, this hand-washing chant from the CDC loosely mimics the happy birthday song, but with a few syllables missing in every verse. Your mini won’t mind though—the straightforward tune and simple words encourage participation in both singing and sanitizing.
5. Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands (Row Your Boat)
Let’s be honest, the preschool crowd isn’t exactly a paradigm of hand-washing compliance. But they can get down with “Row Your Boat,” and that’s one reason this song is such a boon to hygiene curriculum for little kids. The rhyming verses call attention to all ten fingers, encouraging a degree of mindfulness and focus that would otherwise be hard for wee ones to muster.
6. Washy Washy Clean (If You’re Happy and You Know it)
Prepare to be impressed by this exceptionally thorough hand-washing song, which breaks the process down into detailed steps in roughly sixty seconds. Even the shortest attention span can stay tuned and the sudsing proceeds to the upbeat tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” so smiles are basically obligatory.