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New research reveals key times to teach your little one simple hand hygiene habits

Insights from new research sponsored by Dettol have found that play time makes up almost half of a toddlers day, with 88% of mothers saying they like to spend that play time in the garden or in a park. With Global Hand Wash Day (15th October) fast approaching its important to highlight that hand hygiene is the first-line of defense against germs. So it’s not a surprising that almost 75% of mums ensure that their child washes their hands after playing outside, however it means that over a quarter (26%) admitted to not making sure their child do this simple task.

The Dettol survey has found that 56% of mums like to have a basic daily plan for their toddler but still like to remain flexible. As well as playing in the park, almost 80% mums rate drawing and finger painting as their toddler’s favourite activity to keep them happy and entertained. Although fun, these activities can be quite messy and as such over three quarters (79%) of mums make sure their toddler washes their hands when they look dirty but interestingly over a quarter (26%) of mums don’t make their toddler wash their hands before eating, even if germs and dirt are not always visible on hands. It is extremely important that every precaution is taken to prevent your toddler ingesting bacteria which could make them unwell, especially as they are using their hands so much in their indoor as well as outdoor activities.

Professor John Oxford, Chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at Barts and The London School of Dentistry commented, “We want people to recognize that infections are often transferred via contaminated hands and surfaces. Thorough and regular hand washing with soap can help to protect children against many illnesses such as cold and flu and also foodborne illness. Teaching your children good hygiene habits has long term benefits and can help protect your whole family.”

Teaching your toddler basic hand hygiene from a young age, such as washing their hands after going to the toilet, before eating, after playing in the park or after they touch the family pet, ensures that these simple habitual behaviours are eventually undertaken automatically or as part of an everyday routine. It has been found that the odds of having good personal hygiene as an adult are 20 times higher in those who wash their hands automatically after using the toilet so it is best to start them young.

Here are the Hygiene Council's Hygiene Council’s five top tips to teach your toddler basic hand hygiene:
• Encourage your toddler to start washing their hands from an early age
• Ensure your toddler knows when to wash their hands: before eating and before any cookery activities, after using the toilet, playing outside in the playground and after coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose
• Ensure you help your toddler wash all of their hands, including the hard to reach spots like in between their fingers or under the nails
• Timing counts, so make sure they are washing their hands for long enough, try singing ‘Happy Birthday twice, so they know how long they need to clean their hands for
• Make hand washing into a game for your toddler to ensure they are encouraged to keep doing it

For media enquiries, please contact:
Laura Craggs
Tonic Life Communications 0207 798 9260

Nikki Malnick
Tonic Life Communications 0207 798 9993

Further information please visit:
• Hygiene Council:
• Dettol: and

Notes to Editors

• Data from the US suggests that in nurseries and day care centres children are up to 3.5 times more likely to get diarrhoea than children who stay at home .
• Nearly three quarters (71%) of the world’s population learn the majority of their good hygiene habits from their family when growing up.

The Dettol Survey
The Dettol Survey was a UK focused questionnaire, with a survey sample of 500 mothers with children under the age of 10.

The Hygiene Council
The Hygiene Council is an initiative bringing together leading global experts in the field of microbiology, virology, infectious diseases, immunology, and public health to formulate realistic and practical recommendations on simple hygiene measures to help the public improve levels of hygiene in the home and community and, in turn, help to prevent the spread of all kinds of infections.

The Hygiene Council is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Reckitt Benckiser.
For further information, please visit the Hygiene Council website at

The Hygiene Council is now on Twitter! Follow us @hygienecouncil

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