Snapshot of Americans' Hand Washing Habits

Milwaukee, WI, September 15, 2011 --( Americans are becoming more diligent about washing their hands after using a public restroom, according to a national survey conducted by Bradley Corporation of Menomonee Falls, a leading manufacturer of bathroom and locker room furnishings.

In Bradley’s third annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey, Americans said they wash up 90 percent of the time after using a public restroom – that’s up from 87 percent when the survey was first conducted in 2009.

In addition, more parents plan to talk to their children about the importance of hand washing as part of their child’s back-to-school preparation. In the 2011 survey, 89 percent of parents planned a hand washing talk, compared with 83 percent in 2010. (The question was not asked in the 2009 survey.)

When asked what impact seasonal flu virus outbreaks have had on their hand washing habits when using public restrooms, 59 percent of Americans say they now wash their hands more frequently or more thoroughly or longer – a 9 percent increase compared to last year’s response of 50 percent. (In 2009 when the flu virus question was asked, just 45 percent said they washed more frequently or more thoroughly or longer.)

“It’s a significant move in the right direction,” says medical microbiologist Michael McCann, Ph.D., a professor of biology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. “It’s good to see more and more Americans seem to understand the importance of hand washing in illness prevention because hand washing is one of the easiest things to do to keep well.”

Hand Washing Habits

The online survey of 1,053 respondents was conducted August 1-3, 2011, and revealed:

· 64 percent of Americans always wet their hands before adding soap

· 13 percent always wash their hands for a specific amount of time

· 4 percent prefer to use cold water to wash their hands

· 26 percent use a towel, sleeve or other material to open the restroom door after washing their hands

· 11 percent admit they are a germaphobe – someone who is obsessed with cleanliness and has a fear of germs or unsanitary surfaces

· Stall door handles, restroom entrance doors and faucet handles came in first, second and third, respectively, when respondents were asked what three surfaces they dislike touching the most in a public restroom

· 26 percent prefer to stop at a fast food restaurant for a restroom break when taking a car trip (McDonald’s was mentioned most frequently), while another 25 percent prefer a state rest area

· 91 percent of respondents say an unclean restroom gives them a negative perception of a business

Hand Washing & Health
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unequivocal about the benefits of hand washing, calling it critical in preventing infection and illness:

“Hand washing is a simple thing to do and it’s the best way to prevent infection and illness,” the agency says. And by “washing your hands,” the CDC notes that nothing beats good old soap and water.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, adults average two to four colds a year and children have about six to 10. In fact, the common cold is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work.

In addition, each year 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu each year and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for seasonal flu-related complications, says the CDC. Studies show that most healthy adults may be able to infect others one day before becoming ill and for five to seven days after they first develop symptoms.

“Since hand washing is the first defense in fighting off cold and flu germs, it’s important to educate the public,” says Jon Dommisse, director of marketing and product development at Bradley Corporation. “We hope our Healthy Hand Washing Survey calls attention to this important practice and the benefits of hand washing.”

Bradley’s Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 1,053 American adults about their hand washing habits in public restrooms. Participants were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older, and were fairly evenly split between men (48 percent) and women (52 percent).


For 90 years, Bradley Corporation has designed and manufactured commercial washfountains, and today is the industry's exclusive source for plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, restroom partitions, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers. Headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Bradley serves the commercial, industrial, health care, recreation, education, and corrections markets worldwide. For more information, contact Bradley at 1-800-BRADLEY or
Baer-Carlson Communications
Monica Baer