Maintaining proper hand hygiene is important to stop the spread of germs and avoid getting sick, but are many Americans still washing their hands as frequently as the pandemic winds down?
Puronics recently surveyed more than 1,500 Americans to find out. The surveyed aimed to learn more about handwashing habits, both pre and post pandemic, the frequency of how often Americans wash their hands each day as well as demographic breakdowns between men and women to see who is washing their hands more (hint you will not be surprised).
Handwashing Etiquette for Americans
So how important is daily handwashing? When asked, 76% of surveyed respondents said that they believe that handwashing is very important. Men tend to think handwashing is less important their female counterparts with 31% of men saying that handwashing is only somewhat or never important. Only 17% of women responded this way. When asked if you consider yourself very clean, 37% of men said they believe they are very clean compared to 45% of women. On the other hand, men tend to describe themselves as just clean with 50% of men saying they are clean compared to 45% of women.
The survey also found that 18% of adults consider themselves to be very clean, but do not always wash their hands immediately after using the restroom. So clearly Americans realize the importance of washing their hands daily, but many are not following through on handwashing best practices recommended by the CDC. We will get into that more in the next section. We also saw that handwashing varies a bit by gender with women tending to be more vigilant about washing their hands than men.
How often are Americans washing their hands?
When asked about the frequency of daily handwashing, the average American washes their hands 9 times per day on average. For females that number jumps to 10 times daily and with men it drops to only 8 times daily. 38% of Americans say they wash their hands for only 15 seconds or less (the CDC recommends at least 20 seconds). 41% of men wash their hands for 15 seconds or less and 34% of females wash their hands for 15 seconds or less.
49% of surveyed respondents said that they always use soap when washing their hands. This number jumps to 59% for females and drops to 40% for males. 28% of Americans say that they always use hot water when washing their hands. Again, the numbers for females are higher than males, with 33% of females saying they always use hot water when washing their hands compared to only 23% of males.
The CDC recommends using soap and washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds in order to properly clean your hands, however as mentioned above many Americans are falling short of that recommendation with their hand hygiene.
Restrooms and handwashing habits
The handwashing survey from Puronics found that 81% of Americans believe that it is very important to wash their hands after using the restroom, however only 68% of Americans say that they always wash their hands after using the restroom. Adults who rarely wash their hands after using the restroom was pretty evenly split between males and females with 12% of males and 11% of females saying they rarely wash their hands when using the restroom.
The survey found that 63% of Americans report washing their hands more frequently or longer after using a public restroom when compared to using a restroom at home.
Listed below are the most popular methods to avoid germs in public restrooms:
1. Use a paper towel on doors, handles and sink (64%)
2. Flush toilet with foot (59%)
3. Use a seat liner or cover on the toilet lid (52%)
4. Open and close door with body instead of hands (51%)
5. Hover over the toilet seat (37%)
6. None of the above (7%)
Handwashing in public
The next part of the survey asked about if people were washing their hands after returning out in public. This question is on the top of many people’s minds during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that 62% of Americans said that it is very important to wash their hands after being out in public, but less than half (46%) say they always do. As you might expect the number of men who forget to wash their hands after being out in public is higher than women (28% vs 19%).
Washing your hands before eating
The next part of the survey asked Americans about if they are washing their hands before eating. The survey found that 68% of Americans said it is very important to wash their hands before eating but less than half (42%) say that they always do. Once again men are less likely to wash their hands before eating than women.
Washing your hands after coughing or sneezing or when sick
Listed below is the full breakdown of responses for how often Americans wash their hands after blowing their nose:
- Always (31%)
- Most of the time (28%)
- Sometimes (25%)
- Rarely (12%)
- Never (4%)
- Always (26%)
- Most of the time (30%)
- Sometimes (27%)
- Rarely (13%)
- Never (4%)
Blowing your nose and sneezing are two of the most common ways to spread germs, so it is interesting to see the full breakdowns of how often people are washing their hands after both coughing and sneezing.
How many Americans consider themselves germaphobes?
The survey found that almost a third (32%) of Americans consider themselves to be germaphobes. Men and women are equally likely to consider themselves to be germaphobes. 36% of Americans say that they ask their guests to wash their hands before coming inside their home. Despite that number, 39% of Americans believe that some exposure to germs is good for your immune system. 24% of Americans said that they remind family and friends to wash their hands most of the time when visiting their home.
Infographic by: puronics