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Don't Get Caught Dirty Handed

Mom's advice about cleaning your hands may finally be starting to get through. In the August 2010 observational study sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute® (formerly The Soap and Detergent Association), 85% of adults washed their hands in public restrooms, compared with 77% in 2007. The 85% total was actually the highest observed since these studies began in 1996.

In a separate telephone survey, 96% of adults say they always wash their hands in public restrooms, a percentage that has remained relatively constant over the years.

Guys Washing Better - But Don't Take Them Out to the Ballgame

Men stepped up to the sink a bit more than they have in the past when it comes to public handwashing. More than three-quarters of the guys (77%) washed their hands publicly in 2010, compared to 66% in 2007.

The guys still strike out more on handwashing in sporting venues, though. Atlanta's Turner Field stadium fielded the worst percentage for men - barely two-thirds (65%) - though that's still better than just 57% in 2007. Perhaps as a counter to the men's poor handwashing practices, Turner Field brought out the best in women's handwashing among all venues: 98%.

Overall, the rate of women washing their hands in public restrooms improved from 88% in 2007 to 93% in 2010.

First-Place Tie Between Windy City, City by the Bay

The best observed handwashing in 2010 was in Chicago and San Francisco, with 89% of adults lathering up in public restrooms. Atlanta was next (82%), followed by New York City (79%). The venue with the best overall handwashing regimen was Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (93%).

More of Us Are Getting Behind Handwashing After Changing Diapers

In a 2010 telephone survey of 1,006 American adults, Harris Interactive's survey for ASM and ACI found the vast majority of us say we always wash our hands after using the bathroom at home (89%).

More Americans now report that they always wash their hands after changing a diaper (82%), an increase from 2007 (73%). Women are better than men at this practice: 88% of the ladies say they always wash their hands after diaper duty, compared to 80% of the guys.

Food for Thought

Those of us who say we always clean our hands before handling or eating food is staying about the same: 77% in 2010, compared to 78% in 2007. Among women, 83% say they clean their hands before touching their food; just 71% of men say they do.

And only 39% of Americans say they always wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.

2010 Handwashing Resources

Survey of Handwashing Behavior( .pdf .ppt )

Get a Grip Handwashing Brochure ( .pdf)

2010 Press Release ( .pdf )

Methodology

Harris Interactive observed the behavior of 6,028 adults who appeared to be age 18 and older in public restrooms located at major public attractions in the U.S. and recorded whether or not they washed their hands after using the facilities. The research was conducted in four cities and at six different locations:

  • Atlanta - Turner Field
  • Chicago - Museum of Science and Industry and Shedd Aquarium
  • New York City - Penn Station and Grand Central Station
  • San Francisco - Ferry Terminal Farmers Market

Observers discreetly watched and recorded whether or not adults using public restrooms washed their hands. Observers were instructed to groom themselves (comb their hair, put on make-up, etc.) while observing and to rotate bathrooms every hour or so to avoid counting repeat users more than once. Observers were also instructed to wash their hands no more than 10% of the time.

The data from the telephone survey are based on a nationally representative sample, stratified by census region and weighted by gender, education and ethnicity composure to represent the U.S. population. The 1,006 telephone interviews were conducted between August 4-8, 2010.

 

Comments (5)

  1. Yuk! Of course it is the guys fault. They most times have to touch themselves when they use the restroom. Then if they don't wash their hands & touch everything else...so yuk! It is gross when women don't wash their hands either but most times they are not touching themselves. Sandra
  2. Handwashing is essential to wellness. It keeps the bad bacteria down and the good bacteria safe. I know everyone is using the alcohol based sanitizer, but that kills the good bacteria that you need to stay healthy.
  3. Since i have been a kid handwashing has been a must for me. Now knowing the facts about why we need clean hands i am so happy i was a weird kid. Handwashing is so important to live a healthy life.
  4. Yea no kidding if guys don't wash their hands that's just sick, I'm sorry but i would feel so grossed out if guy touched me after the bathroom trip and didn't wash his hands. I think that females wash their hands more frequently because they cook and clean and no one likes having sticky hands.
  5. It really doesn't sound like news to me. I believe parents put more time into teaching girls to be more clean than they do with boys. You should never forget to wash your hand when you go to the restroom even if you don't actually "go" or you just go in to use the mirror because there are lots of bacterias.

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