Pepper and Soap Trick Teaches Kids to Wash Hands

photo of black pepper and water on plate

Parents and teachers know the struggle of trying to get young kids to clean their hands. It’s just not that easy to explain to them what germs are and how they work. So Amanda Lorenzo, a pre-K teacher in Miami, found a unique way to get the point across -- and to help her students learn about the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

She put ground black pepper in a dish of water to represent germs. Then, she asked one of her students to dip their finger in soap. When the child put that soapy finger into the water, the black pepper, or “virus,” moved quickly away from her finger.

Lorenzo’s video of the experiment, along with her young students’ reactions, has gone viral.

WebMD’s lead medical director, Brunilda Nazario, MD, says the classroom experiment is a great way to help kids -- and people of all ages -- understand why it’s important to wash their hands with soap and water at a time when COVID-19 makes proper hand hygiene so important.

“But also it’s also a good idea to show them how to wash their hands the right way to stop the spread of germs,” she says.

The best way to keep germs like the coronavirus away is by washing them thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do it anytime you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose, and after you have been to a public place. Hand sanitizer is a good solution when you can’t get to a sink.

Another key way to stop coronavirus from spreading: Keep your distance from other people, especially if they might be sick. This is especially important for those who are at high risk from the virus, like older adults and anyone with heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease. 

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on March 17, 2020



CDC: “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

Brunilda Nazario, MD, WebMD lead medical director.

Instagram: @mandysmunchkins_, March 11, 2020.

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