A Little Dirt Never Hurt Anyone: Getting Dirty Boosts Your Immune System

young boy covered in dirt gets immune system boost



Remember that time as a kid when you were covered from head to toe in mud and happy? Most of us can think of at least one occasion where we were filthy and content to be so. Kids love to play in the dirt! Nowadays, we watch our kids like hawks, and as soon as a speck of dust settles on their little hands, we are ready with antibacterial soap and a hazmat suit. A bit over dramatic, but you see my point. We are too clean!

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Unattainable Cleanliness


We are robbing our kids of the same fond memories we hold dear by not letting them play in the dirt. Instead, we ask them always to be clean and picture perfect. Is that even possible? Is our desire for cleanliness helping or harming our little ones?


How many times a day do you wash your hands? Before mealtime, when you pet a dog, after playing at the park, when you come in from playing outside, don’t forget bathroom breaks (but please keep washing your hands!), after you go grocery shopping, and the list just keeps on going! Every time you wash, you strip a layer of oil away. Your skin uses that oil to hold in moisture and prevent infections.


What can we do? We can stop over-washing. By that I mean, only wash when necessary. If you’ve just pushed a dirty shopping cart down every aisle at the grocery store, go ahead and wash your hands. After gardening or playing with the kids outside, simply rinse the dirt off when it’s time to go inside. Don’t be afraid to get dirty!



Get the dirt on dirt!


Dirt is good for your immune system! Yes, you read me right. Dirt can help you stay healthy and young. Making mudpies with your toddler will make you feel young again, but more than that, there’s actual scientific evidence that getting your hands dirty is healthy.


Plain old everyday dirt contains soil-based organisms. Soil-based organisms are natural probiotics! That’s right. Our skin needs beneficial bacteria just like our digestive systems. Here are some ways these soil-based probiotics can help your skin:


Skin Shield 


Our skin acts as a shield to protect our internal organs from harmful toxins and pathogens. Beneficial bacteria on the skin’s surface fight against harmful bacteria and free radicals. Soil-based organisms are the knights in shining armor defeating the bad bacteria dragons.


Moisturize and Minimize


What that means is probiotics help your skin retain its moisture, and as we all know, well-hydrated skin shows fewer wrinkles. Now that is a win-win if you ask me!


Natural Sunscreen (Possibly)


Research is still being done on this benefit, but what has been found so far is promising! A healthy balance of skin probiotics could be the solution to natural UV protection.


Healthier Kids


Our immune system is responsive. That means it acts after an incident; it’s not proactive. In order for our children to have healthy immune systems, they need to have active immune responses. When a child puts something dirty, maybe a muddy stick in their mouth, what happens is truly amazing; Their little immune systems practice responding to foreign invaders and learn to differentiate between things that are harmless and those that are harmful.


A Study from The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that children exposed to the great outdoors and all its’ natural irritants have fewer allergies and fewer instances of asthma. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure does make better!


Author Bio: Shannon Walter

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22 thoughts on “A Little Dirt Never Hurt Anyone: Getting Dirty Boosts Your Immune System

  1. My son loves everything dirty. He sees something drop on the floor and eats it. Amazingly. I’m not sure if it’s cause he’s a boy or not but I’m glad he’s not a germ freak.

  2. I love love love this post!! We’ve been playing outside a lot the last month since it’s been so nice out, and I can’t help but be happy, but also cringe, when my daughter has a huge fist full of dirt, and then attempts to eat it!!!!!!! But I love letting her get out there and get all dirty–except for the ticks. I can’t help but still be SO paranoid about them!!!!

  3. It is really comforting to hear that getting dirty is good for us! My daughter and I spent the morning outside and ended up covered in dirt and sand, and I didn’t mind at all. I long ago gave up the need to be clean and pristine all the time, since having a toddler pretty much makes that impossible!

  4. I love this! I’m always so happy when my daughter comes home covered in dirt. I love that she loves to get dirty. Kids need to play. And play is messy (at least the most fun kinds of play are!!). 😃

  5. I literally had no idea about this.

    But I hate dirt – it gets in under your nails… I just can’t. Even thinking about it right now makes me want to cringe 🙂 I never knew I felt so strongly about this.

    I had better get over this and get out with the kids. Thanks for making me think about this. We’re probably missing out on some serious fun.

    I’m going to share this wherever I can for those other moms who are missing out.

  6. This is interesting. We live on a farm so dirt and mud are inevitable. I admit I am quick to jump in and wash my kids when they get dirty but out here the dirt often has animal poop mixed in, LOL. Seriously, I try to let kids be kids and hold down my germ phobias.

  7. I’m all for letting my kids get dirty!

    It’s super fun!

    Just have to teach that that there is a time for dirt and a time for cleanliness. Like if we go to the store, for the love of all things holy, don’t jump in the mud!

    I just wish my 5 year old would go easy on his clothes! Going to be putting patches over the patches on his jeans at this rate!

  8. I’ve been seeing several credible journals and articles discussing this topic, and they all confirm what you’ve posted. I think we have over sterilized so many things for our children that we are actually hurting their immune systems because their bodies aren’t trained to attack and react with introduced to germs and pathogens.

  9. Ok I fricken love this. I am always stressing to those around me with kids that they need to expose their children to dirt and germs once in a while–disenfecting everything is not going to allow their immune system to strengthen! Thanks so much for this information, I’ll be sharing this with my friends for sure!

  10. Great article Shannon! People are over cleaning trying to keep away diseases when they are doing the opposite. Thus we are getting more prone to infections and allergies as our immune system are not capable to respond back. Thank you for including the link to the study from “The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology”.

  11. My kids should be all set then, as dirty as they get, haha. Seriously though, we let get dirty pretty often- especially my youngest because I was worried he would have allergies like his brother did. So far, so good.

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