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Handwashing stations

Handwashing stations are crucial on an agritourism operation. This is the number one thing you can do to prevent customers from getting sick.
Photo courtesy of Rutgers University

Kids have so much fun when they visit a farm or petting zoo. They climb on the playground, pet the animals, and then have something to eat and put their hands in their mouth. Yuk. Agritourism operations with handwashing facilities can help prevent customers from getting sick.

Danelle Bickett-Weddle is the associate director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. She says when they look at disease outbreaks that are traced to animal handling on operations, hand washing is the number one protective factor. Soap and water is the best for breaking the disease cycle.

"Use a soap that will lather well and get hands clean. Hand wipes can also clean off the hair, slobber, or poo that little hands may come in contact with," she says. "It is important to remember that hand sanitizers do not work when hands are dirty. There are some organisms carried by animals that hand sanitizers can’t kill. Soap and water is ideal, followed by drying."

If you’re wondering what kind of handwashing stations to set up, they can be permanent or portable. The best ones will have running water.

"Hot warm and cold, people tend to wash their hands better if they have access to warm water," she says. "Liquid soap is best versus a bar of soap just from ease of use. Paper towels, keeping them stocked, and then a sufficient number of stations for the number of people you expect at any given time."

Make sure they’re accessible for everyone. Have a step stool so even the shortest person can reach the soap and water and do a good job of cleaning up. Provide hooks nearby to hold purses, diaper bags, and coats so they don’t get in the way.

Learn more about setting up a handwashing station

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