OTTAWA -- A CHEO doctor is hoping a popular nursery rhyme will teach children the proper handwashing technique.

Dr. Nisha Thampi wrote “Wash your hands, Brother John!” with the help of her daughter.  The song is designed to help children remember the words and the proper hand-hygiene technique to prevent the spread of common infections.

In the December issue of the British Medical Journal, Dr. Thampi writes “using songs, in particular musical mnemonics based on popular nursery rhymes, may help children learn the process of hand hygiene techniques by making it more fun.”

The article notes the World Health Organization recommends a six step hand hygiene technique to ensure thorough cleansing of hands.

The song is based on the melody of “Brother John”, also known as “Frère Jacques.”

The lyrics to "Wash your hands, Brother John!" (courtesy Youtube/CHEO)

The six steps to achieve effective hand hygiene, sung to the tune of Frère Jacques

  1. Scrub your palms
  2. Between the fingers
  3. Wash the back (one hand), wash the back (other hand)
  4. Twirl the tips (one hand) around (other hand)
  5. Scrub them upside down
  6. Thumb attack (one thumb)! Thumb attack (other thumb)!