Home Hygiene & Health
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July 20th 2013: A disappointing show of hands for handwashing

According to a study by a Michigan State University research group only five percent of individuals observed in restrooms in a college town exhibit satisfactory hand-washing behavior (wash with clean, running water and soap for at least 20 seconds followed by rinsing and drying). Researchers observed over 3,700 people in public restrooms and found that:

  • About 10% of people did not wash their hands after using the restroom.
  • About 67 % of people used soap; 23% wet their hands but did not use soap.
  • Women used soap and engaged in proper hand-washing significantly more (about 78 %) than men (about 50 %).
  • People estimated to be older than college-aged washed their hands (about 70%) more than the college age and younger set (about 65 %).
  • People using restrooms with hand-wash reminder signs used soap more frequently (about 68%) than for without (about 60%).
  • People using restrooms with clean sinks washed their hands using soap (about 74%) more than those using restrooms with reasonably clean sinks (about 61%) and those with dirty sinks (about 59%).
  • Faucet type—whether standard or motion-activated—did not statistically affect hand-washing behavior.
  • Whereas only about 5% of people washed their hands for 15 or more seconds, about 24% washed for 9-14 seconds; 38% washed for 5-8 seconds; 22% washed for 1-4 seconds.

The research is published in Journal of Environmental Health 2013;75:18-24