Experiment: How Well Do You Wash Your Hands?

Grade: Any

Good hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Try this fun activity to help
your child investigate where germs might be hiding!


  • Sink

  • Washable paint

  • Soap

  • Hand towel


  1. Cover both of your hands in paint, as if you were using hand lotion. Make sure to cover the backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and around your fingernails.

  2. Hold your hands out and let the paint dry for three or four minutes.

  3. Rinse your hands briefly with just warm water. How much paint is left on your hands?

  4. Rub your hands together briefly under running water. How much paint is left on your hands now?

  5. Use some soap, and count to 5 while washing your hands. Now how much paint is left?

  6. Continue to use soap, and wash your hands for another 15 seconds. Examine your hands.

Questions to Ask:

  1. What worked best for getting paint off your hands?

  2. What parts of your hands still had paint on them?

  3. Why do we often fail to wash our hands as well as we could?

Expanding the Activity:

  1. Try washing your paint covered hands with a blindfold on. How well did you do when you could not see the paint? How might this compare to not being able to see germs?

  2. Experiment with different kinds of soap: regular liquid, foaming liquid, or bar. Time 20 seconds of handwashing to compare how well each soap works.


Activity Source: Science Buddies