The aim of this study was to explore factors that influence hygiene practices at small day care centers. It examines the effect of food hygiene training on hygiene practices and investigates the correlations between the hygienic status of food handlers' hands and that of kitchen utensils. Furthermore, it determines the influences of demographic and facility-related factors on hygiene practices in small day care centers. A total of 56 food handlers at 49 day care centers in the Gyeongnam area of South Korea participated in hygiene training. The results of the study showed that after two training sessions, the ATP bioluminescence levels of knives (P < 0.01), cutting boards (P < 0.01), food handlers' hands (P < 0.001), and UV disinfection cabinets (P < 0.01) decreased. After training, the total scores on the inspection checklist were significantly improved (P < 0.05). Strong associations between the microbial quality of hands and kitchen utensils were seen. Classification and regression tree analysis identified important factors that influence hygiene practices at small food service kitchens, such as status of registration with the government certification authority, length of food handlers' working experience and their age, and maximum number of people served. This study helps to broaden our knowledge of food hygiene issues in small day care centers.