Is Foam Soap allowed?

Yes! Is the quick and simple answer. Children like foam soap because it’s fun and easily creates bubbles. Teachers like foam soap because it will lather without applying water to hands first, which they see as a way to cut down on the time children spend standing in line waiting to wash hands. Numerous times I have observed 10 children lining up behind the sink while the teacher goes down the line putting a squirt of soap in each child’s hands. As  children wait in line, they rub their hands together with the foam soap. Then one by one they walk up to the sink with running water and rinse their hands off. Sounds like a great solution to give children something to do while they wait to wash their hands, right? Well, not exactly. Since water has not been applied to the children’s hands before the foam soap, the soap tends to dissipate from the oils and dirt on the hands and no longer does its job. Foam soap is similar to liquid soap and the same handwashing procedure must be followed to receive credit for adequate handwashing.


  1. Wet hands.
  2. Apply soap (not antibacterial).
  3. Create a lather by rubbing hands together for 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands under warm running water.
  5. Dry hands.
  6. Turn the faucet off with a paper towel.

For more information on the handwashing procedure, see Caring for Our Children’s standard 3.2.2 and the Human Sciences Extension Child Care Hand Washing video.

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Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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