Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.4 Space and Equipment in Designated Areas

5.4.1 Toilet and Handwashing Areas Handwashing Sinks

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/9/2017.

A handwashing sink should be accessible without barriers (such as doors) to each child care area. In areas for toddlers and preschoolers, the sink should be located so the caregiver/teacher can visually supervise the group of children washing their hands. Sinks should be placed at the child’s height or be equipped with a stable step platform to make the sink available to children. If a platform is used, it should have slip-proof steps and platform surface. In addition, each sink should be equipped so that the user has access to:

  1. Clean, running water (1);
  2. A foot-pedal operated, electric-eye operated, open, self-closing, slow-closing, or metering faucet that provides a flow of water for at least thirty seconds without the need to reactivate the faucet;
  3. A supply of hand-cleansing non-antibacterial, unscented liquid soap;
  4. Disposable single-use cloth or paper towels or a heated-air hand-drying device with heat guards to prevent contact with surfaces that get hotter than 120°F.

A steam tap or a water tap that provides water that is hotter than 120°F may not be used at a handwashing sink.

Transmission of many infectious diseases can be prevented through handwashing (1). To facilitate routine handwashing at the many appropriate times, sinks must be close at hand and permit caregivers/teachers to provide continuous supervision while children wash their hands. The location, access, and supporting supplies to enable adequate handwashing are important to the successful integration of this key routine. Foot-pedaled operated or electric-eye operated handwashing sinks and liquid soap dispensers are preferable because they minimize hand contamination during and after handwashing. The flow of water must continue long enough for the user to wet the skin surface, get soap, lather for at least twenty seconds, and rinse completely.

Comfortably warm water helps to release soil from hand surfaces and provides comfort for the person who is washing the hands. When the water is too cold or too hot for comfort, the person is less likely to wet and rinse long enough to lather and wash off soil. Having a steam tap or a super-heated hot water tap available at a handwashing sink poses a significant risk of scald burns.
Shared access to soap and disposable towels at more than one sink is acceptable if the location of these is fully accessible to each person. There is no evidence that antibacterial soap reduces the incidence of illness among children in child care.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Handwashing Procedure Space Requirements for Care of Children Who Are Ill Food Preparation Sinks Handwashing Sink Separate from Food Zones Water Heating Devices and Temperatures Allowed Handwashing Sink Using Portable Water Supply
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2015. Handwashing: Clean hands save lives.

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/9/2017.