Healthy Handwashing Survey
The results of our 2012 Healthy Handwashing Survey are in and they say a majority of Americans are not washing their hands long enough. 57% of respondents estimate they wash their hands for just 5 to 15 seconds. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing for at least 20 seconds and suggests singing “Happy Birthday” twice to allow enough time to remove and rinse off germs.
And, although the flu season peaks in February, the survey found that most Americans don’t adjust their hand washing habits seasonally. 75% said they don’t increase their hand washing during any specific time of the year.
While it’s good news that 70% of Americans say they always wash their hands after using a public restroom, 29% sometimes skip that important action and one percent admit they never wash after using a public restroom.
On a positive note, the vast majority of parents (84%) plan to talk to their children about the importance of hand washing as part of their back-to-school preparation. The top three messages parents say they’ll convey are: always wash your hands after using the restroom; hand washing helps prevent sickness; and hand washing prevents the spread of germs.
“This year’s research had some surprises, including the fact that Americans don’t increase their hand washing during the cold and flu season. It’s so important to know that hand washing is the best way to help your body fight off cold and flu germs.”
- Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing & strategic development for Bradley Corporation.
Unfortunately, some businesses are coming up short with their restroom facilities. The survey found that 51% of Americans say they’ve had a particularly unpleasant experience in a public restroom due to the condition of the facilities. Gas stations outstripped other locations for awful experiences and most respondents cited a bad smell as the number one cause. Toilets that were clogged or not flushed, and bathrooms that looked old, dirty or unkempt followed as the second and third most common problems.
For businesses, an unclean restroom is troublesome. Survey respondents equated it with poor management and nearly one-third (31%) said they would never frequent the business again.
Hand Washing Observations
When asked about others’ hand washing actions in public restrooms, 74% of respondents said they frequently or occasionally see people leave without washing their hands. Men were significantly more likely to see this occur than women (34% of men frequently see non-hand washers vs. 26% of women).
Compared to public restrooms, the phenomena of skipped hand washing decreases significantly in the work environment. Just 42% of Americans report they frequently or occasionally see people leave the work restroom without washing their hands.
Hand Rinsing on the Rise
In this year’s survey, 62% of respondents admit they have simply rinsed their hands with water after using a public restroom, which is an increase since 2011 when 54% left with only a water rinse.
Top 3 Reasons For Not Washing
- Used hand sanitizer instead
- No soap in restroom
- No paper towels in restroom
According to the CDC, while hand sanitizer can be beneficial, washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs. And, the CDC says it’s important to know that hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.
Bradley’s Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 1,046 American adults Aug. 1-3 about their hand washing habits in public restrooms. Participants were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older, and were fairly evenly split between men (49%) and women (51%).