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Hand Washing Alternatives At School
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13 posts in this topic

Like many of you, I'm sorting through back to school stuff for my daughter with Celiac. I realized last year that her class didn't go wash their hands before eating lunch or snack - they simply applied hand sanitizer. I told her that she needed to wash her hands, and she would, kind of. She didn't like being the only kid that had to go wash her hands and then she was late getting in lunch line, etc. I suspect she's skipping the hand washing because it's so much trouble.

I'm thinking about sending individually wrapped hand wipes with her to use. I feel like that is different than sanitizer because the sanitizer basically stays on your hands. With a wipe, she could actually remove things off her hands. This wouldn't be as good as washing her hands, but a step up from sanitizer.

Am I correct in my thinking?

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I would just send her with a wet washcloth in a zippy bag. I'm not one for the chemicles on whipes tho.

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I agree, wipes would be better than hand sanitizer. But shouldn't ALL the kids be washing before lunch?

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My girls wash their hands with their own soap before eating at school. They prefer to wash their hands, and generally their classmates are encouraged to also wash hands. We ran into a problem on one day because they were coming from music class to lunch, so we worked with the girls to help make sure that hands were getting washed on those days.

We have sent in a wet soapy cloth, a wet cloth and a dry cloth as a handwashing pack before, and that seemed reasonable. But we never really tested if it worked for keeping them from having reactions. And my girls prefer to go wash their hands now. In our car we travel with a gallon of water, soap and paper towels so we can always wash our hands if needed. I would love to hear what you end up using, as it is nice to have options for different situations.

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I think soap and water is 'old school' way of thinking. ;) Honestly, it never occurred to me to even ask about washing hands because I simply assumed that of course the whole class does. However, the invention of hand sanitizer has done away with that in schools it seems. I'd love to hear what schools are doing elsewhere.

Here, you use hand sanitizer before lunch and snack. You wash when you go to the bathroom. Everyone shares sanitizer bottles (I send one separately for my daughter because I worry that she will get contamination from the bottle itself - lots of kids here eat breakfast at school and their selection is typically poptarts, cereal and sometimes biscuits - they sanitize their hands coming in the classroom door after eating).

I've decided to buy some type of sani-wipes like you sometimes get at restaurants (or used to when I was a kid anyway). I like the idea of sending a washcloth in a bag but I know she's looking for discreet and fast. Now, if I could find a way to make a washcloth look cute and trendy, we'd be onto something - lol. I might look around and see if I can find something that I could cut down into a smaller shape. :)

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We make our own cloths, and the girls pick out fabrics and threads for their stuff. For napkins and washcloths I like using velour, jersey or flannel. I bought some bamboo velour in bulk that I love. I serge the edges in different colors of thread, often using wooly nylon type thread. Some of our cloths coordinate with placemats that I also made. Flannels are fun because you can find so many different prints and options. I use wool and fleece for placemats. My MIL just gave me some placemats made of cotton - really cute panels (she is a quilter).

I do make our wash/dry cloths smaller than a standard washcloth, and I sewed a little wool bag to hold the wet cloth (also helpful for cleaning up after messy meals). My girls really love having their lunches packed with cloths and placemats. For cloths, you may find something in the baby section, those can be thinner and more compact than a standard washcltoh. I got a pack of brightly colored ones that we also use for wipes.

Our schools do use a fair amount of sanitizer, but they are also good about encouraging old school handwashing. Our principal two years ago felt that hand sanitizer was being overused and really emphasized good hand washing protocols. The year that we had him, his schools had amazing wellness rates (lowest sick frequency in the district by far!). The first week of school, he went around and had information sessions for each of the classes that included a section on proper hand washing. He was fantastic! Then we had a transfer of principals, and the new principal did not hold the same views on hand washing. The illness rates in our school were horrible under his watch.

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The school prepares her lunch so lunchmats would only be helpful at snack time, but I may do that even though she has her own desk. That's a good idea to check the baby section for washcloths. Anytime I think of school things, I take what my ideal solution would be and temper it with how it would look in practice. Then I factor in teachers, class size and what I think my daughter would do.

I wish schools were more pro-handwashing. I think sanitizer is abused and over-used.

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You've definitely got the right idea in avoiding hand sanitizer - it's not considered all that effective at eliminating gluten. There was a Johns Hopkins Study on what was effective to eliminate peanut proteins - likely at least partly applicable for gluten protein - and soap and water was much more effective than hand sanitizer.

I'm assuming because gluten isn't a germ, or still alive, so the chemical used to destroy germs doesn't really do anything to gluten. Rinsing your hands with plain water was twice as effective in cleaning off proteins than sanitizer was. The sanitizer liquid just...moves gluten around on your hands, pretty much.

Wipes did a better job, probably because they actually wipe some off. But soap and water did the best.

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You've definitely got the right idea in avoiding hand sanitizer - it's not considered all that effective at eliminating gluten. There was a Johns Hopkins Study on what was effective to eliminate peanut proteins - likely at least partly applicable for gluten protein - and soap and water was much more effective than hand sanitizer.

I'm assuming because gluten isn't a germ, or still alive, so the chemical used to destroy germs doesn't really do anything to gluten. Rinsing your hands with plain water was twice as effective in cleaning off proteins than sanitizer was. The sanitizer liquid just...moves gluten around on your hands, pretty much.

Wipes did a better job, probably because they actually wipe some off. But soap and water did the best.

I thought I had read the ONLY way to wash gluten away was Soap and Water. I was under the impression that hand sanitizers and wipes didn't remove ANY gluten from hands but as you mention "move it around." Correct me if I am wrong but I have pretty strict on the washing with SOAP and Water ONLY. If these others work then I will be all over that. My DD DOESN"T like to wash so it has been a struggle and anything I can do to keep her safe I want to know about.

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Wash and rinse to get rid of gluten. Rinse like under the tap or wiping it away w/ a wet cloth... It is a protein, so it won't be "destroyed" or "killed" by the alcohol in the hand sanitizer, which is alleged to be able to kill viruses and germs like bacteria.... but they have to get it on the entire hand surface and between the fingers... I'm sort of grossed out by all this "sanitizing" gel flying around, and the adults thinking that the kids are doing this properly.

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I thought I had read the ONLY way to wash gluten away was Soap and Water.

That's the only way to eliminate enough to be safe, yeah. The sanitizer won't do anything on its own but move things around, but if you used it and then wiped it off, some gluten will come off. Pretty much the same with water rinsing and wiping with a towel - some can wipe off, but just not enough to be fully safe.

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We've noticed that it's important that the *other* kids actually wash their hands *after* eating. The idea of washing hands after eating is foreign to most people, but when kids are all handling the same supplies it's important. My son is doing a Lego Robotics team and it spans the lunch period. I requested that the kids wash hands at the start of class and before and after eating. The teacher sounds like he'll be very accommodating, however, he mentioned in his reply that he'd make sure the kids all sanitized, after I was very clear about washing with soap and water. It's important to follow up to make sure people really did understand what was necessary!

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Another thought to help accommodate the difficulties of handwashing in some circumstances is to eat only foods that you do not touch. This can be achieved by utilizing spoons, forks, toothpicks or even food wrapper/packaging.

My kids do not use shared stuff at school, as we cannot rely on the necessary handwashing to occur (so, for example, my kids use only their own supplies at art class). If my kids do need to use a shared supply, the school has instructions to ensure that handwashing occurs immediately after handling the shared item(s).

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