washing hands under running water in a sink

More Than 9 in 10 Americans Find Hand Washing Important, New Survey Shows

The new survey results also take a look at what hand-washing techniques people use.

We’ve all been told—especially through the COVID-19 pandemic—that hand washing is important, and new survey results show that more than nine in 10 Americans believe this.

According to Bradley Corporation’s Health Handwashing Survey, a whopping 93 percent of the 1,025 respondents said that hand washing is an essential aspect in "maintaining overall health." People across the U.S. were surveyed from January 4 to 10, 2023.

“Handwashing has been shown to be a simple, safe and effective way to reduce the transmission of viruses and bacteria,” said medical microbiologist Michael P. McCann, Ph.D., professor and chair of biology, Saint Joseph's University in the survey summary. “It’s encouraging that Americans realize handwashing is a significant first step to staying healthy.”

Most people are familiar with the proper hand-washing technique: wet hands; place soap on hands; lather and scrub for 20 seconds (the length of the ABC song); clean the soap off with water; and dry off. But how many people put this practice into action?

According to the survey results, more than half. The number of respondents who are “rule followers”—those who adhere to all steps—is 51 percent. What’s more, 33 percent admitted to using extra soap, and 35 percent spend more time on the scrub and wash step.

Although this is encouraging, there are still a handful of people who don’t adhere to the guidelines. Instead of using a towel or air dryer like the CDC recommends, 20 percent of respondents opt for their clothes. (It should be noted that, per the CDC, “the best way to dry hands remains unclear because few studies about hand drying exist, and the results of these studies conflict…Nonetheless, studies suggest that using a clean towel or air drying hands are best.”)

More than one in 10 (14 percent) begin with step one, but fail to use soap or dry their hands, and three percent don’t wash their hands at all because they don’t have time, the survey said.

“Germ avoidance and handwashing diligence are two habits that should always be a priority, and businesses can support hand hygiene by providing well-maintained restrooms,” said Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing and corporate communication for Bradley Corp in the survey results. “No matter where you are or what you’re doing, everyone should lather up, scrub thoroughly, rinse and dry their hands.”

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

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