Kids' Songs to Sing While Cleaning Their Hands

Tired of “Happy Birthday” being the soundtrack for little hands getting their 20-second scrub? Here are seven alternatives to help mix it up and keep students on task.


As you may have heard, effective handwashing is now more important than ever. The CDC recommends lathering up for at least 20 seconds to help prevent the spread of germs. That’s about the time it takes to sing, hum, or whistle two verses of “Happy Birthday,” which brings us to this:

Jen Monnier, the creator of a now viral Twitter thread, asked: Aren’t there any other songs to make the act of hand scrubbing less dull? She further elaborated on the question for the Los Angeles Times where she also suggested a handwashing playlist of 10 songs including Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” and, for adults over the age of 40, older hits such as Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”

The idea even helped inspire a new website, Wash Your Lyrics, which generates a handwashing infographic of your choice. Just plug in the name of the song and the artist and a poster is created automatically.

But how does help teachers of grade-schoolers stuck in a “Happy Birthday” handwashing song rut? When schools reopen, new health and safety guidelines are advising that students wash their hands as much as once every hour of the day. That sounds awful for everyone involved. So, teachers, know this: We feel for you. That’s why to help you from going batty, we scoured the web and found these seven kid-friendly alternatives perfect for effective hand scrubbing.

LET IT GO

One of the most overplayed movie songs in early 2014 has been gone just long enough to feel (slightly) new again. The first verse of this Disney favorite (Frozen) comes in at a solid 30 seconds, perfect for all the handwashing overachievers in your class.


Handwashing chorus: Let it go, let it go / Can't hold it back anymore / Let it go, let it go / Turn away and slam the door / I don't care what they're going to say / Let the storm rage on / The cold never bothered me anyway

MY SHOT

Jazz up the handwashing routine with Hamilton’s most popular song. The tongue-twisting delivery might seem impossible for children, until you Google kids doing just that. To keep it simple while scrubbing, sing the first verse two times through. Or sing the first and the second for a real Jedi-level scrub.


Handwashing verse: I am not throwin' away my shot / I am not throwin' away my shot / Hey yo, I'm just like my country / I'm young, scrappy and hungry / And I'm not throwin' away my shot

FRÉRE JACQUES

Dr. Nisha Thampi, a pediatric health researcher at Ottawa, Canada’s CHEO, made a video with students who adapted the tune of the song, “Brother John” (a.k.a. “Frère Jacques), replacing its lyrics with the six-step, hand-wash practice prescribed by the World Health Organization.


Handwashing verse: Scrub your palms / Between the fingers / Wash the back (one hand) / wash the back (other hand) / Twirl the tips (one hand) around (other hand) / Scrub them upside down / Thumb attack! (one thumb) Thumb attack! (other thumb)

FIREWORK

Described as a “self-empowerment anthem” by singer Katy Perry, “Firework” debuted on the Perry’s album Teenage Dream. Great beat. Fantastic message. “Firework” was also used in Disney’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted during the sequence when the central characters performed a circus show with their new friends in London.


Handwashing chorus: You just gotta ignite the light / And let it shine / Just own the night / Like the Fourth of July / 'Cause baby you're a firework / Come on show 'em what you're worth / Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!" / As you shoot across the sky-y-y

UNDER THE SEA

From the Disney classic, The Little Mermaid, “Under The Sea” won both an academy award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. The fun, little chorus is easy to remember and, timing-wise, perfect for handwashing when sung once through.


Handwashing verse: Under the sea / Under the sea / Darling it's better / Down where it's wetter / Take it from me / Up on the shore they work all day / Out in the sun they slave away / While we devotin' / Full time to floatin' / Under the sea

HAKUNA MATATA

“Circle of Life” might be the best-remembered hit from Disney’s 1994, The Lion King. But “Hakuna Matata” is a lot more fun.


Handwashing verse: Hakuna Matata! / What a wonderful phrase / Hakuna Matata! / Ain't no passing craze / It means no worries / For the rest of your days / It's our problem-free philosophy / Hakuna Matata!

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

Sung like Judy Garland, and you get through two lines in the first verse. Sung like children are apt to when trying to finish kid-dom’s most annoying chore, and you’ll easily tear through the entire first verse.


Handwashing verse: Somewhere over the rainbow / way up high / There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby / Oh, somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue / Clouds high over the rainbow, makes all your dreams come true


Note: Meet handwashing regulations at your school or daycare. Portable handwashing stations from Britten Safety Solutions set up anywhere, indoors or out. No costly new construction. No running water required. Get maintenance-free operation and no-fuss function while showing parents you care. To learn more, please visit bss.com