Good hygiene habits start early

Having good hygiene habits involves more than just hand-washing. Teaching your kids to have a healthy hygiene routine when they’re young can create habits that last throughout their lives. Use this head-to-toenails guide, and teach your kids good hygiene habits.

Washing hair

Most young children can get away with washing their hair two or three times per week. Washing hair too often can dry out young scalps, making them more prone to dandruff.

As kids enter their tweens and teens, the hormonal effects of puberty take hold, sometimes making their hair greasy. Washing their hair with shampoo may be necessary at least every other day.


Young children either love the bath or hate it. On non-shampoo days, you can make a thorough bath into a fun game. Have your child put on their bathing suit and place them into the tub with a washcloth, a bowl of warm, soapy water, and a bowl of warm water for rinsing. Make sure they know to put the washcloth into the soapy water before scrubbing a body part and then into the rinse water before repeating.

Skin care

Toddlers and preschoolers still need parents to help them with skin care. Skin blemishes such as the following are common at this age:

  • rashes
  • bumps
  • scabs

Before your child gets dressed after their bath, help them look over their skin from head to toe to make sure they don’t have any new blemishes that need care.

Skin care for teens

Like their hair, teenagers’ skin becomes oilier with puberty. A number of acne-reducing medications are on the market, but people can sometimes overlook the benefits of simply washing with water and mild soap. Teach your teen to wash their face two to three times per day and to avoid picking at pimples.

As for makeup, make sure your child knows that sharing can spread infection and that going to sleep with makeup on can wreak havoc on their skin.

Oral hygiene

Clean teeth and gums can prevent a wide range of health issues, including bad breath, cavities, and heart disease later in life. Your child should brush and floss at least twice per day, if not after every meal. Older children can carry toothbrush kits in their backpacks so that they can brush at school. Younger children can help you time the full 2 minutes that a good brushing requires.

Underarm care

Washing underarms and wearing deodorant is a rite of passage many tweens and teens may dislike or ignore. Sweat starts to become body odor at different ages, but it often starts around 9 or 10 years old. Talk to your child about the importance of washing under their arms, especially after sports practice. Depending on how heavily your child sweats, you may want to choose an antiperspirant, not just a deodorant. Deodorant controls bacteria and adds scent, while an antiperspirant also helps to minimize sweating.


Hand-washing is an integral piece of good hygiene. Washing before and after meals, after playing in the dirt or with pets, and after being in contact with someone who’s sick is the best way to eliminate germs. Tell your child about the importance of scrubbing with soap for the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Hand sanitizers aren’t as effective as soap and water, so use them only in a pinch.


Fingernails are a breeding ground for bacteria. The germs that live under your child’s nails can easily transfer to their eyes, nose, and mouth. Invest in a good nail brush and help your child scrub the dirt out from under their nails before bedtime. A weekly clipping will help get rid of dirt and reduce the possibility of painful ingrown nails.


Once young children become toilet trained, you’ll need to focus on the habits that keep little parts clean. Teach them to wipe thoroughly from front to back and wash their hands when they’re done. These healthy habits will help minimize irritation and keep infections at bay.

Menstrual cycle

Once girls start wearing makeup and begin menstruating, there are some hygiene habits specific to their needs. Encourage your daughter to keep a chart of her cycle so she’ll know when to have feminine hygiene products available. Periods may be irregular for the first two years, so help her learn to be prepared.