hand washing

New Hand Washing Statistics Released

hand washingDespite recent flu epidemics and the rapid spread of other communicable diseases — American’s still aren’t very good at washing their hands.

In fact, a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Health has found that only 1 in 20 Americans properly wash after using the restroom.

And though it takes between 15 and 20 seconds of vigorous washing to eliminate germs, the average wash only lasts about six seconds.

“It’s horrifying,” said Carl Borchgrevink, the study’s lead author.

To collect these statistics, researchers set-up shop in bars, restaurants and other public establishments to observe people washing (or not washing) their hands. A total of 3,749 people were included in the study results.

The Worst Offenders

This may or may not be surprising, but men were particularly bad at hand washing. Fifteen percent didn’t even bother washing their hands at all (compared to 7% of women).

And when they did wash their hands, only half used soap (compared to 78% of women).

“Maybe some men don’t like being told what to do or they feel they’re invincible or they think it’s unnecessary,” Borchgrevink said.

Take Away Message

Nearly 80% of all infectious diseases are spread through the act of touch. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing is the most effective strategy for stopping the spread of infectious disease.

Collectively improving our hand washing practices has the potential to save thousands of lives every year. And as a facilities manager or business owner, you have the power to increase hand washing rates by upgrading your cleaning strategies.

Previous research has indicated that men and women are more likely to wash their hands in public if the restroom is clean and orderly. Automated foaming hand soap, hands-free faucets and hand dryers as well-stocked paper towel dispensers can make a huge difference. Restroom signs can also encourage increased hand washing.

Image Credit: Flickr