22 October 2007

Squid Soap: good idea, poor execution

Squid SoapI was recently sent a review sample of Squid Soap by the makers of Airborne. The parent hack potential was high: the idea is that kids "ink" their hands with the built-in stamp, then wash with the soap for 20 seconds to get it off. Turns out the CDC says that 20 seconds of scrubbing is what it takes to properly get rid of the germs.

I liked the idea that this is regular, old soap -- not the antibacterial stuff which provides no foreseeable cleaning benefit but could, in the long term, promote the emergence of resistant bacteria.

Plus my kids happen to be hugely into squid, so I knew it would cause a minor uproar around here.

True to form, my kids loved the soap, and immediately removed the squishy squid and started dancing with it around the house. (Note to Airborne: please include two squid per bottle.) The soap smelled good and the bottle looked cute in the bathroom. But after 1-2 "inks" the novelty had worn off (unlike the ink) and they were back to washing their hands for about 5 seconds a pop.

After 3 days, the protective seal around the ink had popped off, and pink ink was seeping around the base of the bottle. It washed off the sink easily enough, but was a nuisance. I can only imagine what would happen if a stamp-happy kid got a hold of it and decided to decorate the bathroom walls.

All-in-all, a fun product and a good idea, but not something that makes it to parent hack status.

Anyone with tricks for teaching kids to wash their hands properly?

Related:
Airborne: Does it help your family avoid colds?
CleanWell: All-natural hand sanitizer

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The easiest thing we started was to have them sing songs or go through times tables. Seems to work well on my nephews and nieces. Singing happy birthday to themselves, or doing the math tables takes at least the 20 seconds. I guess as your kids get older just make the times tables harder :)

My SIL suggested singing the alphabet song. When I timed myself it did indeed take 20 seconds. But that's if you're not trying to sing as fast as you can. ;)

My favorite idea for getting kids to wash their hands more thoroghly, is to scream as if you are a germ being attacked by the water and the soap..."oh no...I'm melting...oh no...not the soap...AAHHHHH" etc... I can usually hear the water running while I'm in another room and can start bellowing. My sons, 4 and 6, think "torturing" germs is hilarious. I read this idea somewhere and thought it was worth mentioning.

songs work great..especially the alphabet song--just long enough if you don't run through the jklmnop part so fast!

A friend taught my kid to use enough soap that by putting her hands together at the thumbs and forefingers (making a O-like shape between the two hands) she could stretch a soap film and try to blow a soap bubble.

i don't know if it's 20 seconds worth, but my kid remains totally motivated to use plenty of soap to get the bubble to go.

We sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." My four-year-old usually gets mixed up in the middle and sings the first two lines about three times, so it lasts much longer than 20 seconds.
The only bad thing is that I cannot hear this song now without thinking of hand-washing, so make sure you don't choose a song you really like, as it may be ruined for you forever.
We may need to try the soap bubble trick too...

Second the singing songs bit: as it happens, "Happy Birthday" takes 20 seconds to sing twice. If you feel foolish singing "Happy Birthday" when it's not your birthday (though it's somebody's birthday!) do what I did with my kids: I replaced the lyrics with "I am wash-ing my hands" to the same melody.

I bought the squid soap in the summer but was unimpressed. The ink pad broke off within a couple of days and was useless.

We have had much better success with a "foaming" soap dispenser. We use a great smelling grapefruit & cardamom soap we buy at Whole Foods.

We're at the point when when the Alphabet song is sung (not while washing hands), my daughter starts rubbing her hands. Pavlov would be proud...

It occurs to me that your squid soap bottle might have broken because your kids...well, broke it by taking the squid off the top?

My daughter and I compete to see how bubbly we can get our hands before we rinse them off. The trick is to turn off the water when the soap goes on, otherwise her hands go strait to the water and rinse. If the water is off, she'll happily scrub her hands together to get as many bubbles as possible. Then, when she has lots of bubbles, we turn the water back on and rinse off. To encourage proper washing in public restrooms, we try to guess what color the soap will be.

Kevin: The squid isn't attached to the bottle -- it's meant to be taken off.

My husband is an infectious diseases specialist. They tell people to sing Yankee Doodle Dandy while scrubbing their hands.

It gives a good length... but frankly I don't think it's fun.

I think screaming as though germs are dying is the BEST idea!

With the blowing soap bubbles thing, just remember that it is the soap PLUS the rubbing action that kills the germs.

I work with child care centers on sanitation issues and have found this website very helpful in teaching the importance and procedures for handwashing. http://www.scrubclub.org/home.aspx
Check it out.

our song - twinkle twinkle little star. And I am totally with you on the whole question of why put triclosan in everything when it doesn't work well enough to actually decimate germs, just to make them grow stronger? It makes me crazy because it's promoting and preying on putting fear in parents' hearts when there are enough real things to worry about. Gah. Sorry, you just hit a soft spot with that one! Rant over!

Just seconding the Scrub Club recommendation above. My kids love this site and have watched the video over and over again, played the games, etc. They don't always remember the 20 seconds now, since they haven't watched for a while, but all it takes is a reminder from me about what they say on Scrub Club and they're back to scrupulous scrubbing. I just wish NSF would come up with another "webisode" -- the site has featured only one since its creation a couple of years ago. www.scrubclub.org

Dustin - I LOVE the idea of Happy Birthday changed to "I am washing my hands". We use the song "This is the way we..." for a lot of things we do, so may try to incorporate that into the hand washing. :)

My daughter learned this song at day care, and it helps (sometimes when she is really messy we tell her to sing it twice):

(To the tune of row your boat)

Wash, wash, wash your hands
Wash them day and night
Soap and water does the trick
Keeps them clean and bright

Whenever I want our boys to do a thorough scrubbing I have them give one of their plastic animals a bath. Turn on the water, use our foaming soap dispenser to makes lots of suds, and let them scrub away. They'll play in the sink for awhile.

I can't get my kid to STOP washing her hands! I guess that her age (22 months) water is still WAY COOL)

;)

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