What should children be taught about Personal Hygiene and Cleanliness?
Posted on: January 31, 2018.

“Personal hygiene” is chiefly about physical cleanliness and the proper upkeep of personal appearance, which generally includes all areas of the body and the clothes children wear. While personal hygiene is important in every stage of life, developing good hygiene skills in childhood can set the stage for clean habits as an adult.

Children, however, do not naturally understand the importance of maintaining personal hygiene, and as a child grows, he or she has to learn personal hygiene from their family, usually with parental assistance, until they are old enough to do it on their own. Hygiene education begins at home, where kids learn what it is and how to follow a proper hygiene regime.

Bathing thoroughly
Children should be given a bath or shower twice a day, which helps eliminate bacteria on the body. Armpits and other deep reaches of the body, and feet, must especially be cleansed thoroughly, to eliminate body odor (BO) caused by accumulated sweat, dirt and bacteria. Children must be taught to clean behind the ears and also the complete outer ear, and after a bath, fingernails and toenails must be scrubbed to remove debris. Children should also learn to thoroughly dry their feet, especially between the toes where bacteria tend to collect.

Between 8 to 13 years of age, the body’s sweat glands begin active function, causing a significant increase in perspiration and BO in most preteens and early teens. They should be habituated to routinely wear deodorant as part of their daily hygiene regime.

Shampooing regularly
Dirt, oil, and dead skin cells in the scalp can be removed only by massaging the scalp with regular use of shampoo. Children who spend a lot of time outdoors, or tend to sweat heavily, require weekly shampooing. Again, between 8 to 13 years of age, the oil-producing sebaceous glands begin to produce more oil, and consequently, preteens and teenagers need to wash their hair more often. To help stop hair breakage in children with curly hair, coconut oil or sweet almond oil could be used as hair conditioners.

Hand Washing
Transmission of germs to the mouth and thence to the stomach starts from the hands. Therefore, keeping the hands clean is a definite must to personal hygiene and cleanliness. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), unclean hands spread numerous disease and illness. Children must wash their hands with soap and water several times a day, especially before eating, and essentially after handling pets, going to the restroom, and coughing or sneezing on their hands. Children must be trained to thoroughly wash and rinse their hands for 20 seconds, and then dry them on a clean towel.

Clean Clothes
It is important to put on freshly laundered clothes every day, as dirt, sweat and dead skin cells can become trapped in soiled clothes like socks and underwear. Children should be made to wear cotton socks to help their feet breathe and keep them cool and dry. To help keep feet smelling fresh, a little foot powder can be sprinkled into the shoes and socks that children wear.

Children should be trained to brush their teeth twice a day. A dentist or hygienist could help children with the most effective brushing techniques for good oral hygiene. At home, parents can help prevent tooth decay in children by replacing sweet snacks with healthy vegetable-, fruit-, or cheese-based snacks.


Children observe and learn from people around them, especially their parents while at home. If children are taught a set of habits that is not practiced by those who taught them, they tend to get confused and thus will not be able to follow. When children see their parents taking care of their personal hygiene and cleanliness around their homes, they will certainly consider and inculcate those habits.

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