Only five per cent of washroom users properly wash their hands

15th of July 2013
Only five per cent of washroom users properly wash their hands

A new study finds that thorough hand washing is being carried out by only five per cent of us after using the washroom.

Up to 20 per cent of people do not use soap and only five per cent wash their hands for the 15 seconds or more recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And one in ten washroom users bypasses the wash hand basin altogether.

A team from Michigan State University used students to observe and collect data on hand washing behaviour from the washrooms of bars, restaurants and other public places. A total of 3,749 people were observed.

Only half the men in the study used soap while 15 per cent failed to wash their hands altogether. The figures for women were 78 per cent and seven per cent respectively.

The researchers also found that people were less likely to wash their hands in a dirty sink, while a clean sink increased the length of time spent hand washing. People were also more likely to wash their hands earlier in the day and if there was a sign encouraging them to do so.

"These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate," said study researcher Carl Borchgrevink.

The CDC recommends that washroom users wash their hands vigorously using soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds. However the average recorded in the study was only six seconds, while only five per cent washed their hands for 15 seconds or longer.



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