Needs Improvement: America's Clean Hands Report Card Not Worth Framing

According to the Soap and Detergent Association's third Clean Hands Report CardSM, students have the most to learn. Overall, they scored a grade of D in the non-profit trade association's annual survey of parents, teachers, and school nurses/health professionals. The survey questioned respondents' hand hygiene behavior and knowledge of the importance of regularly cleaning one's hands throughout the day.

School nurses/health professionals received pretty good marks--averaging a B+. Teachers notched a B-. Parents earned a C, but moms (B-) were much better than dads (D+). These scores, taken together, gave Americans an overall grade of C, which, while slightly better than the overall C- earned on the 2006 Report Card, still shows we have significant room for improvement.

"With cold and flu season coming up, good hand hygiene is vital to infection control," said Nancy Bock, SDA Vice President of Education. "Cleaning our hands is especially critical at school and at work, where germs lurk in every corner and in every handshake. This year's 'Most Likely To Succeed' will be the person who practices a simple three-step process: Wet, lather, and rinse."

SDA offers the following refresher course for effective hand washing:

  1. Wet hands with warm running water prior to reaching for the soap, either in bar or liquid form.
  2. Rub hands together to make a lather. Do this away from running water, so the lather isn’t washed away.
  3. Wash the front and back of your hands, between your fingers and under the nails. Continue washing for at least 15-20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands well under warm running water.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer.
  6. Hand sanitizers or hand wipes are useful alternatives if soap and water are not available (for example, when traveling in the car or taxi on the way to a business meeting, before eating a meal or snack on the plane, or in the school cafeteria, etc.).

More information on hand hygiene is available online at www.cleaning101.com/handhygiene. A more detailed summary of the survey results is available at http://www.cleaning101.com/newsroom/surveys/.

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