handwashing habits

Americans beginning to drop improved handwashing habits

According to Bradley Corp's new Healthy Handwashing Survey, it seems Americans are beginning to falter on their COVID-19 handwashing habits.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021

According to the Bradley Corp’s latest Healthy Handwashing Survey conducted in January, it seems Americans are beginning to backslide on their handwashing habits.

The survey reports that 57 per cent of Americans are washing their hands six or more times a day. That is a considerable drop off from the 78 per cent of Americans who were washing that frequently when the survey was conducted in April 2020, just a few weeks into the pandemic.

In many cases, it appears that statistic does not reflect what Americans are saying about their concerns over COVID-19. 81 per cent of Americans say they are concerned about contracting the coronavirus, but just 53 per cent say they wash their hands after returning from a trip outside the home. Last April, by contrast, 67 per cent were washing after venturing out.

In addition, the survey finds that just 38 per cent are currently reminding family members to wash their hands compared to 54 per cent last year.

“Handwashing has been shown to be a simple, safe and effective way to reduce the transmission of viruses and bacteria, including the virus that causes COVID-19,” says medical microbiologist Michael P. McCann, Ph.D., professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University. “It is essential that everyone maintain high-levels of personal hygiene and that we not relax our guard now that vaccines are becoming available. Washing our hands, wearing masks and practicing social distancing are all easy things that we can and must do as we try to overcome this virus and return to a more normal way of life.”

The latest edition of the annual Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corp. queried 1,050 American adults Jan. 11-13, 2021, about their handwashing habits, concerns about the coronavirus and flu, and their use of public restrooms. Participants were from around the country and were evenly split between men and women.

The survey found the length of time Americans are sudsing up has also taken a dive. In January, 67 per cent said they were scrubbing their hands for the recommended 20 seconds or longer, compared to 77 per cent who were washing that long in April 2020.

The rinse-and-run phenomenon has also edged up – although it’s better than pre-pandemic times. This January, when respondents were asked if they have simply rinsed their hands with water instead of washing with soap, 48 per cent admitted to doing so. In April, the number of rinsers dipped to a low of 27 per cent. However, the current incidence of “rinsing only” is better than pre-COVID when 64 per cent of Americans said they had taken that shortcut.

“We’re all experiencing pandemic fatigue but it’s important to maintain handwashing vigilance,” says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp. “Taking at least 20 seconds to thoroughly clean your hands by washing them vigorously with soap and water – and drying them thoroughly – is time well spent.”

Overall, Americans correctly believe handwashing habits are  better germ-fighter than hand sanitizer. 61 per cent understand their hands are less germy after washing with soap and water than after using hand sanitizer – a fact supported by the CDC. For times when soap and water are not available, the CDC says that using hand sanitizer is a good, second option for hand hygiene.

For more information, visit bradleycorp.com/handwashing.

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