Why handwashing is so important

Each and every day I feel like I alternate between “have you washed your hands?” and “come brush your teeth!”.  Jokes aside, there have been so many nasty bugs doing their rounds this year that I’ve reinforced a good hand washing routine at home. To commemorate Global Handwashing Day on 15th October, Dettol, a leader in germ protection, ran a successful 6 week campaign educating learners from 60 schools across Gauteng on the importance of handwashing through “soap letters”.

“Letter for Life” as the campaign was called, saw learners from across the province write a letter which was coated with liquid soap, dried, then given to other pre-selected learners (along the lines of a pen-pal), with the purpose being for them to wash their hands with the letters once read! An ingenious concept to drill down on the importance of handwashing.

I have two busy little kids. Being busy for them involves playing outside, painting, playing using their hands and helping out in the kitchen.  Those little hands are always grubby.  At five, Oli is fine to fend for himself, he knows the drill. Play! Be messy! But always wash your hands afterwards, before touching or eating food, and especially after using the toilet is non-negotiable. He also knows to count to 20 after lathering his hands and rinsing off.  Most people don’t know there’s not much point in washing your hands if you don’t do it correctly.  You need to rub vigorously for at least 20 seconds for maximum effectiveness.  Soph needed a little more encouragement. She’s potty trained (besides the night-time nappy), washes her hands diligently at school, but forgets 9 out of 10 times at home to do it.  So, I made a poster for her, had it laminated and it stuck it up by the basin between the handsoap and the towel en-route to the door – it’s worked a treat! She now stands on her little step, pumps (mostly a little too much) soap into her hands and washes away without so much as a prompt from me anymore! Oli got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease a little while ago(it’s not as bad as it sounds).   For those of you that haven’t had your children experience this, it spreads like mad!  Even with a cough, which he had at the time, we managed to stop Soph from contracting it through proper handwashing etiquette and cleanliness.

Soap your hands

Buggy washing hands

We’ve had some pretty horrendous water outages in Johannesburg recently, thank goodness for the amazing Dettol disinfectant wipes that I have handy in both my handbag and kid’s bag! Seriously, can a mom ever have enough wipes?  These particular wipes profess to killing 99.9% of germs “anytime, anywhere” – enough to make me a Dettol Mom for life.


The Global Handwashing Day organisation defines the Day as “an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.” – I think Dettol achieved just that.

Dettol handsoap


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