Poems, Songs and Rhymes about Cleanliness and Washing Up

Kishan emailed me requesting a poem about cleanliness.

Here are some rhymes and poems I found that are generally about cleanliness, keeping clean or washing up…

First, here’s a traditional nursery rhyme that mentions having a clean face:

The Clock

There’s a neat little clock,
In the schoolroom it stands,
And it points to the time
With its two little hands.

And may we, like the clock,
Keep a face clean and bright,
With hands ever ready
To do what is right.

This next rhyme is about washing feet:


Marguerite, go wash your feet;
The board of health is ‘cross the street.

Here’s a song you can sing when washing up or brushing teeth:

This is the Way We Wash our Hands
(To the tune of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush)

This is the way we wash our hands
Wash our hands, wash our hands,
This is the way we wash our hands
In the afternoon (or “To keep us very healthy”)

(You can continue with washing other body parts or substitute the line “This is the way we brush our teeth”.)

Here’s a song about washing away germs:


Wash your face and hands with soap,
Wash them every day!
Keeping clean by using soap
Will help keep germs away

Finally, below you’ll find an old poem called Cleanliness by Charles and Mary Lamb from around 1874. First I’ve given a shortened version that I found and after that you’ll find the full, longer version of it:


All-endearing cleanliness,
Virtue next to godliness,
Easiest, cheapest, needfull’st duty,
To the body health and beauty;
Who that’s human would refuse it,
When a little water does it?

Here’s the longer version:


Come, my little Robert, near-
Fie! what filthy hands are here!
Who, that e’er could understand
The rare structure of a hand,
With its branching fingers fine,
Work itself of hands divine,
Strong, yet delicately knit,
For ten thousand uses fit,
Overlaid with so clear skin
You may see the blood within,-
Who this hand would choose to cover
With a crust of dirt all over,
Till it look’d in hue and shape
Like the forefoot of an ape!
Man or boy that works or plays
In the fields or the highways,
May, without offence or hurt,
From the soil contract a dirt
Which the next clear spring or river
Washes out and out for ever-
But to cherish stains impure,
Soil deliberate to endure,
On the skin to fix a stain
Till it works into the grain,
Argues a degenerate mind,
Sordid, slothful, ill-inclined,
Wanting in that self-respect
Which does virtue best protect.
All-endearing cleanliness,
Virtue next to godliness,
Easiest, cheapest, needfull’st duty,
To the body health and beauty;
Who that’s human would refuse it,
When a little water does it?

If you know of any songs, rhymes, poems, or sayings about cleanliness or washing up, please let us know about them in the comments below.


Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 at 10:14 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Australia, Canada, Children's Songs, Cleanliness, Countries & Cultures, English, English Children's Songs, English Nursery Rhymes, Health and Safety, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Poems, Poems about Cleanliness, Poetry, Proverbs, Quotes, Rhymes by Theme, Songs about Washing Up, Songs by Theme, Teaching, United Kingdom, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

74 Responses to “Poems, Songs and Rhymes about Cleanliness and Washing Up”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Here’s a very old rhyme I found about being washed and about being dirty (it’s hard to imagine someone writing it nowadays):


    ” WHAT ! cry, little Boy, when you’re washed !
    To be sure,” said Mamma, “you’re in joke !”
    Then Edward looked up much ashamed,
    And was quiet as soon as she spoke.
    “Why, would you be dirty,” said she,
    ” And keep filthy clothes on to wear ?
    Who’d kiss my dear Boy’s pretty face ;
    Or love him, or like to come near ?
    Be washed then, and made a nice child.”
    And offering her hand, as she stood,
    He kissed her, and smiled at his Nurse,
    And promised them both he’d be good.

  2. Rebecca Says:

    My personal favorite is “The Goops” by, I think, Burgess Meredith.

    “The Goops, they lick their fingers,
    The Goops, they lick their knives.
    They spill their broth on the tablecloth,
    They lead disgusting lives.

    The Goops, they talk while eating,
    And loud and fast they chew.
    And this is why I’m glad that I am not a Goop —
    Are you?”

    That second stanza veers away from cleanliness, I admit, but we always enjoyed reciting it when I was a child. Our family method involved dropping our voices about an octave on “disgusting.”

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for pointing that out! Cool poem! I checked and it looks like it was written by Gelett Burgess and published in 1900.

    -Mama Lisa

  4. Lisa Says:

    Here’s another Goop poem about Acting Uncleanly…

    Acting Uncleanly

    Just look at
    Percival B. Sloop,
    A most unpleasant
    sort of Goop;
    He pokes his fingers
    in his nose
    And wipes his hands
    upon his clothes;
    He does a lot
    of things that you,
    I know, would never,
    never do!

  5. Lisa Says:

    At Project Gutenberg you can find THE GOOP DIRECTORY
    OF Juvenile Offenders Famous for their Misdeeds and Serving as a Salutary Example for all Virtuous Children

    It has Goop poems for all sorts of good behaviors one might want to teach children.

    (From the link above you can either download it or go to Gutenberg’s online version of the book.)

  6. Lisa Says:

    Here’s another poem about cleanliness:


    Goop! Goop! Goop!
    I wish you’d wash your face!
    Goop! Goop! Goop!
    Your hands are a disgrace!
    Goop! Goop! Goop!
    Put things back in their place!
    I wish you were polite,
    Instead of a
    Goop! Goop! Goop!

    This one comes from another Goop book that’s at Project Gutenberg called MORE GOOPS and How Not to Be Them: A Manual of Manners for Impolite Infants.

  7. shirin manocha Says:

    i have no comments but this poem i remember is bits of paper-
    Bits of paper, Bits of paper
    lying on the floor, lying on the floor
    pick them up, pick them up……………………………………
    please if you remember please reply

  8. Loula Says:

    Hey, thanks for the help with the rhymes! Here is a song I found this week:
    Wash, wash, wash, your hands play our handy game rub and scrub, scrub and rub germs go down the drain HEY! Wash, Wash, Wash your hands play our handy game rub and scrub, scrub and rub dirt goes down the drain HEY! (on the melody of “row, row, row your boat…gently down the stream…)

  9. Loula Says:

    Lisa, I’m urgently also looking for stories. (summaries will do.)
    The five themes are:
    1. Washing hands
    2. Brushing teeth/anything about dental care
    3. Wiping of noses
    4. Washing of the whole body
    5. Toilet/ potty-training routine

    Please help?!?

  10. Lisa Says:

    There’s an online book called Oh, What a Mess by Hans Wilhelm. about a pig family that learns to clean their home and themselves.

  11. Lisa Says:

    Here’s another poem I found called Washing and Dressing:

    Ah! why will my dear little girl be so cross,
    And cry, and look sulky and pout?
    To lose her sweet smile is a terrible loss,
    I can’t even kiss her without.

    You say you don’t like to be washed and be drest
    But would you be dirty and foul?
    Come, drive that long sob from your dear little breast,
    And clear your sweet face from its scowl.

    If the water is cold, and the comb hurts your head,
    And the soap has got into your eye,
    Will the water grow warmer for all that you’ve said?
    And what good will it do you to cry?

    It is not to tease you, and hurt you, my sweet,
    But only for kindness and care,
    That I wash you and dress you, and make you look neat,
    And comb out your tanglesome hair.

    I don’t mind the trouble, if you would not cry,
    But pay me for all with a kiss;
    That’s right, take the towel and wipe your wet eye;
    I thought you’d be good after this.

  12. Rachna Dargan Says:

    Dear Lisa, the story link that you hv given above is really good….but can u help me with some short story …say about a few lines….?

    Specifically on the topic…I keep my body clean…


  13. Lisa Says:

    Here’s a strange one…

    Dirty Jim

    There was one little Jim,
    ‘Tis reported of him,
    And must be to his lasting disgrace,
    That he never was seen
    With hands at all clean,
    Nor yet ever clean was his face.

    His friends were much hurt
    To see so much dirt,
    And often they made him quite clean;
    But all was in vain,
    He got dirty again,
    And not at all fit to be seen.

    It gave him no pain
    To hear them complain,
    Nor his own dirty clothes to survey;
    His indolent mind
    No pleasure could find
    In tidy and wholesome array.

    The idle and bad,
    Like this little lad,
    May love dirty ways, to be sure;
    But good boys are seen,
    To be decent and clean,
    Although they are ever so poor.

    Jane Taylor (1783-1824)

  14. Manjusha V Says:

    Hi! Can someone help with some poems on any of the following topics
    1) Punctuality
    2) Obedience
    3) Tidiness
    This is for my 5 year old daughter.

  15. Elizabeth Says:

    Hey I am looking for songs or rhymes that have to do with teaching young children personal space- any resources would be welcome!


  16. Lisa Says:

    I just came across this saying:

    Have a place for everything and everything in its place.

    A little on topic.

  17. zak Says:

    Hi! Love the poems..
    Could you please write me a poem about
    Keeping our hands clean…

    It’s for my little sister..Thanks..

  18. zak Says:

    When could i get the poem??

  19. Parmen Says:

    hey can u guys help me with poems on “my clean hands”

  20. lolly Says:

    there a song Ihad learnt and forgotten it goes like this”we got to have clean hands(cllap clap) we got to have clean hands(clap calp). the reason why i sing this song is we want a land that clean and strong that why we have to have clean clean hands.
    does any one know more

  21. jev galme Says:

    hi! can you make me a poem about the value of cleanliness? i really need it for my project

  22. Deepti Says:

    could you please tell me a poem on “keeping your room clean”.

  23. Lisa Says:

    Here’s a Goop poem about keeping your room neat…

    Esau Pound – Leaving Things Around

    When you’re finished
    with your play,
    Do you put
    your toys away?
    Do you put
    away your hat,
    And your coat,
    and things like that?
    Or, are you
    like Esau Pound?
    He’s the Goop
    who leaves things ’round!

    Anyone else know of any neatness poems?

  24. Lisa Says:

    Here’s a short little poem about washing hands:

    Mother says, and of course she knows.
    That clean hands and face.
    Make me fresh as a rose.

  25. Tholoana Says:

    For sharing kitchens:

    (I just made this up so bare with me. Also used one of the one liners mentioned above)

    have a place for everything and everything in its place
    you found the kitchen neat dont leave it a disgrace
    when you done on the counter, the stove and the floor
    wipe up all your crumbs, your oils, and spills galore

  26. Lisa Says:

    Here’s some more oldies….

    I updated this one it was so old-fashioned:

    Good Health Song
    Tune “Twinkle Little Star.”

    Healthly children everywhere,
    Exercise and breathe fresh air,
    Soap and water we have seen,
    They keep hands and faces clean.
    Healthy children often smile,
    As they stop to rest a while,
    Learning each day as they should,
    To take time to eat pure food.
    Healthy children bow to you,
    We are very happy too,
    See the tooth brush on parade,
    Of the germs we’re not afraid.
    Healthy children all in turn,
    Say we have so much to learn,
    To stay healthy is the best plan,
    And we all know that we can.
    Healthly children everywhere,
    Exercise and breathe fresh air.


    Song to the tune of Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be?

    I Oh dear, what is the remedy,
    Oh dear, what is the remedy,
    Oh dear, what is the remedy,
    Children so careless are we,
    We promised to brush all our teeth every morning,
    We promised to brush all our teeth every morning,
    We promised to brush all our teeth every morning,
    We’re very forgetful you see.

    2 Oh dear, what shall become of us,
    Oh dear, what shall become of us,
    Oh dear, what shall become of us,
    Poor health will folllow we know,
    To take frequent baths now we all have had warning,
    To take frequent baths now we all have had warning.
    To take frequent baths now we all have had warning,
    We’ll not longer be careless as can be.


    Towels and soap, where there’s life there’s hope,
    That children will keep clean.
    Towels and soap, where there’s life there’s hope,
    To try for Good Health we mean.


    Little tooth brushes clean and new.
    We can never stand abuse,
    But were made for daily use.

  27. Abdirahman omar abdille Says:

    Kindly send me asong,apoem n askit about cleanliness for aproject work thanx

  28. Debora Says:

    I am so fed up with people going to toilet and Not washing their hands,
    so I am busy with hanging rymhes and pictures in our little toilet to encourage people to wash their hands.
    since there is no sink in the toilet room visitors have to come to the kitchen and ask if they can wash their hands, which i really appreciate.
    Can any of you provide a rhyme which contains something as;

    Water, soap and fresh towel … ask in the kitchen
    Free of charge!

    I know it doesn’t sound good,
    but since English is not my mothertongue, rhyming is rather difficult that is why i am asking your help

  29. niru Says:

    kindly help me i need skit on soap and cleanlness age 4yrs for our project in class.

  30. Betsy Says:

    I’m looking for the little quip that has the words “if it’s dirty clean it up”, “if it’s full, empty it”…etc. There are two are three more lines in this. I need to post a sign in my house that tells all the rules!

  31. Lisa Says:

    I found these online:

    “If it’s dirty, clean it up. Don’t wait until later, do it now. It makes for a more peaceful house.”


    “If something is broke; try to fix it….if it’s dirty; clean it up…if it’s in the wrong place; put it back where it belongs.”

    Anyone else?

  32. Betsy Says:

    This is close, but not it. It is 4 or 5 lines in the meter of lines I’ve written.

  33. PRABHA Says:

    Really all the poems are very useful…
    could u pls help me with some skit or debate on the topic cleanliness …..for 4th std students assembly program .. pls help me

  34. Sweny Says:

    Cleanliness cleanliness
    It is next to godliness
    Keeping our earth clean
    Is our duty, and has ever been.

    Throw the litter in dustbin
    Avoid using polythene
    Do not throw garbage in water
    No matter whatever.

    Keeping our earth clean
    Is our duty, and has ever been.

  35. Tonya Says:

    Clean clean clean the house ,
    Get the mess all gone
    And when ur done
    With all ur chores
    Ull have a happy home!

    Just made it up… May work may not.. lol

    To : row row row ur boat.

  36. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  37. H.L. Taglio Says:

    My mother created this concept when I was a child of “The Cleaning Fairy.” I started doing this with my kids and saw the huge results and benefits of it. I started sharing it with my friends and neighbors…and they all use it in their homes as well… their kids’ rooms are a non-issue now.

    I wrote this concept into a storybook for my kids to have and to be able to share this fun cleaning trick with other moms (www.cleaningfairybook.com) as it is SO much more fun than nagging and IT WORKS! :)

    Here is a little sample of the beginning of story rhyme:

    A room full of toys
    in disarray
    showed careless chaos
    and signs of decay.

    A tired mommy
    sat down to cry;
    she’d tried coaxing and bribing
    and giving “the eye.”

    She’d threatened and yelled
    ’till her voice would boom,
    begging her children
    to pick up their room.

    Finally exhausted
    she let out a sigh,
    familiar to ears
    of the fairy nearby.

    This fairy arrived
    when she heard Mommy’s cries,
    and then climbed up her knee
    to look in her eyes.

    The fairy’s eyes glistened
    as she gave a warm smile,
    and revealed a secret
    that’s been proven worthwhile…

  38. kishan Says:

    thanks for nice and very awesome poem

  39. Lilly Says:

    “If you sprinkle where you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat.”

  40. Lulli Says:

    i need a poem on cleanliness related with recycle, reuse and reduse. Even with the word eco-friendly. pls help me.

  41. Lisa Says:

    There are some recycling poems and songs here.

  42. Shweta Says:

    Can anybody tell me a good poem on clean and green environment for my 5 year old kid.

  43. kirti Says:

    thanks for the songs. they were of great help

  44. garima Says:

    i need sum gud small poem on cleaning toilets for class 5th. its a competition going to held all ovr country

  45. Jason Says:

    Could I please get a poem or essay on ‘Self Cleanliness’


  46. vidushi naithani Says:

    Loved the poems…..but could you tell one short poem on clean toilet….its for my little sister:) thanx

  47. Lisa Says:

    This might not be what you have in mind – but I thought I’d post it because sometimes you see the saying here in the US:

    “If you sprinkle when you tinkle
    be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.”

  48. Lisa Says:

    When you work try to enjoy it,
    Even when you scrub the toilet.

  49. Lisa Says:

    Here’s a song about cleaning up that’s sung to the tune of Frère Jacques:

    Bits of Paper,
    Bits of Paper,
    Lying on the floor,
    Lying on the floor,
    Make the place untidy,
    Make the place untidy,
    Pick them up,
    Pick them up.

  50. Robin Bryant Says:

    Is there a polite poem about keeping a work place kitchen clean without too much offense?

  51. Lisa Says:

    I found this following quote here:

    “Due to circumstances beyond our control, our butler and maid have resigned. You cooperation in helping keep this place clean will be greatly appreciated.”

  52. Teresa McDaniel Says:

    i’m looking for a poem that i did in 5th grade. it starts out with What is all this washing about, from morning till noon day in and day out. i can’t remember the rest other than it’s about 2 little girls who get dirty and have to wash there face and hands and i think there clothes and there not happy about it. we did this in a school talent show. could you help me, i’v been looking and no luck. thanks for your time .

  53. vanessa watkis Says:

    it was very helpfull for my roleplay thank you guys

  54. Albert Says:

    DO you have any humorous poem for class 7

  55. Jamie T Says:

    WHat about the one about soap or something from pre-k?
    “Not a lot. Just a drop”

  56. Ruby Says:

    I know this may never get read but I thought I would take a shot. I need a short poem put together asking people to please put the ice scoop back where they got it from when using the ice machine. Most tend to drop it in the ice and as most of us know people don’t bother to wash their hands and germs spread quickly and we can’t through out all the ice. If anyone could help I would really appreciate it. It would probably rely largely on a poem about putting things back in their place.

  57. Patricia Bowen Says:

    Looking for origin and complete old English poem with following lines: Wash your face you dirty boy, or you will wear away your Granny’s joy.

    This is a poem my fathers mother used to say to him in the 1920’s.

    Thank you.

  58. Barbara Huet de Guerville Says:

    Here’s one: Who are you? A dirty old man! I’ve always been since the day I began. Mother and Father were dirty before me, Hot and cold water have never been o’er me.

  59. Susan Monroe Says:

    My spouse sings these words to the Calypso tune of Sonora:

    Brush, brush, brush your teethies
    Brush them up and down.
    Bruuuuush your teethies
    Brush them all around.

  60. I need a poem about laundry man for my 7 years boy!!! Says:

    Hii, all the poems are beautiful and easy to remember .. I need a small poem about laundry man for 2nd standard student.

  61. Susan Manderson Says:

    And this mindset, dating back to Victorian times, is why we’ve all got allergies today.

  62. Karen Puff Says:

    I just bought a vintage, red, child’s step stool, with white block letters. It starts-out saying,
    “Brush your teeth, wash your face…” and then after that, the white letters were worn-off. There are two more lines.
    Any ideas what the next two lines say?

  63. Lisa Says:

    Karen – Here are some lines I found on the internet that go with “Brush you teeth. Wash your face.”

    Comb your hair. (#1)

    Comb your sleepy head.
    Give mom a hug.
    Wash your hands.
    Say your prayers.

    There’s also Anita Renfroe’s song called Momisms that’s sung to the William Tell Overture. It starts…

    Get up now, get up now, get up out of bed
    Wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your sleepy head
    Here’s your clothes and your shoes, hear the words I said
    Get up now, get up and make your bed…

  64. Melissa Says:

    I am sure it could use some refining, but my children and I just came up with this little rhyme to repeat as we leave each room…

    Every time I leave a space
    I’ll look around me just in case
    There are some items out of place
    That need to be replaced with grace

    I am not sure on the last line if it should be replaced, restored, put back, returned or some similar word… what is your opinion? :)

  65. Lisa Says:

    Nice Melissa!

  66. Melissa Says:

    New version…

    Every time I leave a space
    I’ll look around me just in case
    There are some items out of place
    That need to be replaced post haste!

    My husband wanted the word haste included! :)

  67. Melissa Says:

    Actually, “returned post haste” was the consensus! Have a wonderful day!

  68. Tonia Says:


  69. Martin Says:

    I remember a verse of a song taught to us in kindergarten titled “Bad Jimmy Germs” 60 years ago which apparently was an introduction to germ theory. It went something like “Bad Jimmy Germs are everywhere, they’re on the floor, they’re in the air! Just you watch out whatever you do, don’t let them get inside of you! If there was another verse or two about mitigating the adverse effects of Bad Jimmy Germs I’ve long forgotten it.

  70. Maureen Wineland Says:

    Does anyone have a copy or know where to get one of a vintage poem about soap? One of the lines is about getting things clean “but most of all me.”

  71. Maureen Wineland Says:

    Need the poem about SOAP. One of the lines is “most of all me.”

  72. Lisa Says:

    Maureen – It seems it might be an English translation of a French essay/poem called Le Savon by Francis Ponge (1899-1988). It was translated to English in the 60’s. You can read excerpts of it here and here. I hope this helps! -Mama Lisa

  73. Amanda Says:

    These are wonderful! And I’m so glad I read the comments! I copied many of them down, thank you!

  74. Ella Starr Says:

    How helpful that you mention this poem with Robert and his filthy hands. I want to start a new business this summer. I will find a good hand washing station service for this as well in my area.

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