Ahead of Global Handwashing Day on Friday, October 15, a new survey from the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) has found that handwashing will be the habit that most Americans say they will continue over the next few months.
Handwashing outranks other pandemic-related measures such as wearing masks and social distancing when it comes to Americans’ vigilance, according to the survey.
In particular, 93 per cent of respondents are more likely to continue their pandemic hand-hygiene habits than the other referenced health measures.
However, the ACI survey findings show a 19 percentage point decline in frequent handwashing since the start of the pandemic. Fewer people now also say they are more mindful about washing their hands for 20 seconds, compared to March 2020.
So, while respondents are likely to continue pandemic hand-hygiene practices, the survey indicates they are not washing as frequently or for as long when they do wash. As Americans prepare for a potentially severe cold and flu season, due to an underexposed population last year combined with less COVID-19 restrictions this year, this decline in handwashing can put people at risk.
“Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the most simple and effective measures to take in the fight against COVID-19 and other easily transmittable diseases,” said Melissa Hockstad, ACI President & CEO. “As we gear up for the coming cold and flu season, we hope to equip everyone with the knowledge and tools they need to practice proper handwashing.”
The survey also found that most Americans are still washing their hands (59 per cent) and using hand sanitizer (55 per cent) more frequently now than they did prior to COVID-19, nine in 10 still report some type of change in their handwashing habits since the pandemic started, and 83 per cent of Americans plan to continue using hand sanitizer.
Meanwhile, the Bradley Corporation’s Healthy Handwashing Survey found that 86 per cent of Americans say they are now more conscious about coming into contact with germs than prior to the pandemic, and nearly 90 per cent report the virus led them to step up their diligence by washing their hands more frequently or more thoroughly. Among that group, approximately two-thirds indicate they’ve maintained their increased habits throughout the pandemic. 67 per cent say they wash their hands for 20 seconds or longer.
“Handwashing is such a simple action yet it’s a powerful defence against the spread of germs,” says Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing and corporate communication for Bradley Corp. “This Global Handwashing Day, we’re encouraging everyone to continue to keep their guard up and wash their hands frequently and thoroughly throughout the day.”
Global Handwashing Day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
This year’s theme, “Our Future is at Hand —Let’s Move Forward Together,” highlights the critical role hand hygiene plays in disease transmission.
Important handwashing tips and best practices include:
- Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, being sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Taking note of the following key times to wash your hands:
- Before, during and after preparing food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After handling garbage
- After directly handling dirty laundry
- If soap and water are not available, using hand sanitizer as an alternative. For use against COVID-19, look for an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol.
- Drying hands after every wash with a clean towel or disposable paper towel to avoid germs latching onto wet hands. After drying, using a disposable paper towel to grab the restroom door handle to avoid transmitting germs onto clean hands.
- Selecting a soap with a mild preservative to reduce the risk of skin irritation and looking for products that have been dermatologist tested to verify they have low allergenic potential and are designed for people with sensitive skin.
- In addition to using a hand wash containing skin conditioners that are designed to moisturize while cleansing, applying moisturizer after frequent handwashing.