Sing your own handwashing song in lockdown

drawing of man washing his hands and singing Dona nobis pacem pacem

What is your handwashing song in lockdown? You’re over Happy Birthday, that’s for sure. And when someone recently published a list of alternative songs (Prince, Beyonce, Dolly Parton, Toto—you know the one) the identical list was republished by others all over the Web. Why? (Rolls eyes.)

C’mon! These are not the only songs in the world!

You can sing any song you want, whether silently or out loud—and the louder the better in my opinion.

As for making sure your singing lasts the prescribed number of seconds, just set your stop-watch going (or watch a clock if you don’t have a smartphone) and start singing. You’ll soon find out how many lines fill 20 seconds. And once you start, you just might want to keep on singing.

Your favourite songs are your personal favourites for good reason.

  • They hit your heart strings.
  • They remind you of good times or a significant person.
  • They probably have rhythm and a memorable tune, although that’s not essential.
  • And they’ll be in a key that is high enough or low enough or limited enough to suit your voice. I mean, I adore Dolly Parton, but with Jolene, in a single line (you know the one) my vocalisation goes from creaking to groaning to cracking to squealing. Might work for the hygiene but it does nothing for the soul.

Choose your own 20 seconds of song for handwashing in lockdown

A skipping song? a nursery rhyme? a requiem mass? a march? a waiata? a sarabande? boogywoogie? a rock anthem? a chanson? a folk song? a lullaby? a country classic?

It’s hard to be ourselves in these strange times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The structure of our lives is bent and almost busted.

At least we can sing our own songs. So let’s raise our own voice with a song of our choice!

12 thoughts on “Sing your own handwashing song in lockdown

  1. anne leueen says:

    I agree. I am just thinking of some now. Perhaps the Eagles Hotel California (” you can check out but you can never leave”) or something by Bruce Springsteen.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Cool choice!

  2. susanbright says:

    Clever post! I make up my own songs with my grandchildren!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


  3. Cathy Cade says:

    When walking the dogs, i time myself with the Wizard of Oz if I’ve forgotten my watch. It’s half as long again as Happy Birthday. It lasts around half a minute at my usual pace and takes me about 25 metres. I move a dog treat from one pocket to the other at each repetition.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s wonderful! So did the dogs train you?

      1. Cathy Cade says:

        The dogs have trained me to do many things, but singing my steps is something I do on thewalker/treadmill rather than watch the clock (because it’s so-o-o boring)

  4. Elizabeth says:

    “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” takes 20 seconds up to the attempt to rhyme with hypotenuse.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Adorable choice!

      1. Elizabeth says:


  5. I’m going to sing “Hot Cross Buns” tomorrow when I wash my hands. I used to sing it with my children. We’d bake the buns and share them with neighbors, singing the song to them when they came to the door.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s such a good association for the song.

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