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The science of hand washing

Science with Steve has a fun, at-home science experiment you can do with the kids to show why it's so important to wash your hands.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Wash. Your. Hands.

Arguably the most spoken words in the world of recent, and rightfully so.

While we're stuck at home with the kids - they're probably getting tired of you telling them to wash their hands. Here's a simple, fun, experiment you can do to help them understand why it's so important.

What you need:

  • Plate
  • Water
  • Ground pepper
  • Soap


Pour some water on the plate to create a thin layer and then sprinkle in the pepper. The pepper in this science experiment are germs, or of recent, Covid-19. When you place a finger in the water, some 'germs' get on your finger.

Now, rub a little soap on your finger and place it back in the 'dirty' water, watch what happens!

Soap breaks down the surface tension of water, which makes it so effective for cleaning. Now that the surface tension is broke, the water molecules (which like to remain close to each other) repel as far away from the soap as they can. Since the pepper, or 'germs', rest on the water's surface, they go with it.

So we'll say it one more time, wash your hands.

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