Circles + Scissors: Louisiana mom teaches new way to wash hands

Updated: Mar. 10, 2020 at 10:10 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As the global outbreak of COVID-19 puts a renewed focus on hand washing, a Baton Rouge mother says her routine at the sink is more important than ever. Jenny Iverstine has been teaching her Circles + Scissors method in elementary school classrooms since 2018.

"I realized there's not one way that we teach kids that's fun and effective to wash their hands. 20 seconds and 'Happy Birthday' just doesn't do much for a child," Iverstine said, referring to another method that teaches children to wash hands while singing the birthday song.

Iverstine researched handwashing guidance from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and other medical groups and turned it into her own interactive, five-step checklist.

1.) Bubbles - Lather the palms
2.) Circles - Backs of hands and knuckles
3.) Scissors - between...
1.) Bubbles - Lather the palms 2.) Circles - Backs of hands and knuckles 3.) Scissors - between fingers and thumbs 4.) Itchy Palms - Nails and fingertips 5.) Wring around the wrist(WAFB)
  • Bubbles - Lather the palms
  • Circles - Backs of hands and knuckles
  • Scissors - between fingers and thumbs
  • Itchy Palms - Nails and fingertips
  • Wring around the wrist

“Less than one percent of Americans were washing their hands correctly,” Iverstine said. “In 2018 that statistic came out, and I was shocked and like 'Ok, I guess I’m on the right track.”

She's since launched a small business selling waterproof stickers for mirrors and posters that teach the Circles + Scissors method. Iverstine also teaches in schools for free and posts instructional videos online. She has a goal of "one million clean hands."

The novel coronavirus is putting Iverstine’s handwashing routine in a bigger spotlight.

"You do what you can, you prepare yourself, and this is the right way to wash your hands," she explained. "You should walk away with a sense of confidence in this atmosphere. Like, 'I'm doing the best thing I can for me and my family.'"Even though Circles + Scissors is designed for children, the method also applies to adults.

"Every parent says to me, 'I do a better job at washing my hands now too,'" Iverstine said.

Spreading knowledge instead of germs, she believes teaching proper techniques at an early age will lead to confident hand washers for life.

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