Hand washing songs can help young children practise important hygiene routines. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends washing hands regularly with soap and water. They estimate it should take about 20 to 30 seconds to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water which is about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.

While the Happy Birthday song is a wonderful tune, for some children it could set up expectations for a party or other treats. Below we’ve provided alternative hand washing songs for kids and for families to sing, including:

  • Hand washing rhymes and traditional children’s songs.
  • Songs that teach you how to wash your hands.
  • Preschooler and toddler songs for hand washing.

Child learns to wash hands to hand washing songs.

Hand washing rhymes and children’s songs

Many children’s rhymes come with well known tunes. We’ve borrowed some of the tunes before for our original colour recognition songs. These well known rhymes are also fun substitutes for hand washing songs as they take between 20 and 30 seconds to sing.

We’ve included an estimate of the timing with each hand washing rhyme below and our suggestions on whether to repeat the verses for a deeper clean.

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Sing this tune once only, but don’t rush it.  It should take around 25 seconds.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

2. Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Though this rhyme is considerably shorter at 10 seconds once around, we recommend singing it 3 times to get the full effect for washing hands. It’s also a wonderful tune to do as a round with older children. Repeat three times for a 30 second hand washing rhyme.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream!

3. Brother John  (AKA Frère Jacques)

Another song that makes a beautiful round for children and families to sing is Brother John. It’s also an enjoyable hand washing song. Originally sung in the French language, we recommend singing the English version twice which takes about 30 seconds.

Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John,
Morning bells are ringing, Morning bells are ringing,
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

Children learn to wash hands to hand washing rhymes.

More nursery rhymes to accompany hand washing for kids

4. Three Blind Mice

Three Blind Mice makes for a solid 30 second hand washing song if sung twice. This middle of this song can be a little challenging for toddlers but they will love to hear their families sing it with them.

Three blind mice, Three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?

5. The Fish Counting Song: 12345

The fish counting song 12345 is an educational learning song for preschoolers that makes a good substitute for the Happy Birthday song. With this song, you only need to sing it once as it takes about 27 seconds.

1, 2. 3, 4, 5 Once I caught a fish alive,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Then I let him go again.
Why did you let him go?
Cause he bit my finger so.
Which finger did he bite?
This little finger on my right.

6. Hey Diddle Diddle

Sung once, this fun nonsensical nursery rhyme doesn’t quite make it to the 20 second recommendation. Sung twice though, your child’s hands will get a good scrub at home or when using one of the hand cleaning stations set up at Petit Early Learning Journey.

This hand washing song comes in at 15 seconds for one verse, 30 seconds when repeated.

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon!

Child washes hand in running water while taking hand washing for kids seriously.

Songs that teach you how to wash your hands

There are a few variations on the methods of washing hands. For these songs that teach you how to wash your hands, we’ve chosen Health Direct’s seven steps to washing and drying hands and some neat nursery rhymes to match.

7. Hand washing song #1 to the tune of Brother John

You can sing this song using the same tune as Brother John but you only need to sing both verses of this song once.

Wash your hands, Wash your hands,
Remove your rings, remove your rings,
Wet your hands with running water, Wet your hands with running water,
Apply the soap. Apply the soap.

Rub your hands, rub your hands,
For twenty seconds, twenty seconds!
Cover all surfaces, cover all surfaces,
Rinse and dry, rinse and dry.

8. Hand washing song #2 to the tune of Three Blind Mice.

Here’s an adaptation of our hand washing song to Three Blind Mice. Repeat it twice for a maximum clean.

How to wash your hands, wash your hands.
Remove your rings, remove your rings.
Wet your hands under a running water tap,
Apply the soap, rub the palms and the back.
Do the fingers and between the gaps,
Then rinse and dry your hands.

Child observes the sensation of foam while learning how to wash your hands.

Hand washing songs for children

Sometimes you might just want to sing fun hand washing songs with your children. Here’s a couple of rhyming songs for preschooler and toddlers that last between 20 and 30 seconds that work well as hand washing songs too:

9. Hand washing song #3 to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Wash, wash, wash your hands.
Whenever they are dirty!
Keep them clean for your hygiene,
May your health be fine and sturdy.

Repeat three times for a thorough hand wash.

10. Hand washing song #4 to the tune of Hey Diddle Diddle

Warm soapy water or hand sanitiser,
When the dirt jumps onto my hands.
We like to laugh and wash them clean
To make the germs run-away and disband.

When singing this hand washing song repeat it twice for an intensive clean that covers all parts of the hands and fingers.

Child shows soap covering his hands as he learns hand washing songs.

Engage your child with fun resources at Petit Early Learning Journey

At Petit ELJ, we support each child’s individual learning, health and wellness. With nursery rhymes, singing, reading, fun games and other child-led activities, your child’s holistic development is nurtured by a unique curriculum and we take hand washing seriously.

Enquire now about the benefits of a holistic early learning education and care environment for your child. Talk to your nearest centre about our curriculum and its emphasis on play-based learning.