I find it quite hard to wash my toddler's hands in a public restroom which may have a very wet counter and otherwise be a bit dirty. It's hard to operate soap dispensers which require two hands to use. Also, he loves grabbing at the faucet and handles, to the point where I think his hands might be dirtier than when we started. Tips?

  • Toddler is 21 months old, so can stand, but very short!
    – gaosan80
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 6:40

7 Answers 7


The approach I use with my son is to lift my leg up and put my knee against the counter, then set him on my thigh (with a leg on both side). This way he can get to the sink without getting too close to the not so very clean areas and I can keep a hold of him and help. About the only downsides are:

  1. the knee of your pants can get filthy if the sink isn't too clean.
  2. if he swings his legs in excitement at playing in the sink, you get kicked in the crotch.
  • This is exactly what I have done, although if you have balance issues I would not recommend it. wink
    – MichaelF
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 11:49

Wait with using the sink at such public rest rooms until later on when the child is better able to handle it. Instead, use wet wipes from your baby bag for now.


Usually ill make my own hands very wet and simply rub his hands clean. Together with wet wipes for the sticky dirt it works great.


I just stand my toddler on the counter and we wash our hands together. She can bent down and reach the sink comfortably and it keeps her clothes from getting wet from the water on the counter.

When she was younger, I'd just stick my knee up against the sink and sit her on my leg. Worked great!


As has been said, I prefer using wet wipes and/or a sterile handwash gel. I will also sometimes, wet their hands, soap them and then wipe them with wet towels, before drying them. It's a hassle at times, but jeez, some of these toilets...


I'm not sure how tall your toddler is or even if they can stand yet?

My son is now 4 and quite tall, but I previously used to let him stand on my shoes in front of me which gave him enough height to reach over the top of the counter.

Someone has to touch the faucet / handles so you're not going to escape that. What I used to do was wash his hands inside mine and make sure there was plenty of soap. Then once finished take him over to dry your hands.

I think if the faucet / handles are dirty; if your hand are thoroughly clean, but still a little wet, if you dry them properly after touching the handles you don't really have an issue with germs.

This is a hands on approach and will ensure your child's hands are properly soaped, washed and dried. Then you should be fine.

Also (slight product plug) you can use a hand sanitizer after you have dried off if you are still worried.


I do something similar to Cabbey. I hold my one year old straddling my knee against the sink or on my hip. We lean over and wash my right hand and his left hand, then dry both of those. Then we switch sides and wash my left hand and his right, and then dry both. I don't hold him close enough to touch the handles easily. I like the hand gel afterwards sometimes too.

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