Survey Finds Americans Don't Wash Hands More Often During Cold and Flu Season

The current flu epidemic may cause Americans to rethink their handwashing habits. According to a national survey, 75 percent of Americans don't adjust their handwashing habits seasonally, even though the flu season strikes each winter.

The survey also revealed most are not washing their hands long enough. 57 percent of respondents estimate they wash their hands for just 5 to 15 seconds. In fact, the CDC recommends washing for at least 20 seconds and suggests singing "Happy Birthday" twice to allow enough time to remove and germs.

The findings are from the fourth annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey conducted by Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of bathroom and locker room furnishings, including sinks, faucets, hand dryers, showers and lockers. Bradley originally released the survey results in August 2012 to coincide with the back-to-school season.

"Everyone needs to know that hand washing is the first line of defense against infection and illness," says medical microbiologist Michael McCann, PhD, a professor of biology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. 

The survey also found that 70 percent of Americans say they always wash their hands after using a public restroom, 29 percent sometimes skip that important action and one percent admit they never wash after using a public restroom.

"We were surprised to learn that Americans don't increase their handwashing during the cold and flu season," says Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing and strategic development for Bradley Corporation. "It's so important to know that handwashing is the best way to help your body fight off cold and flu germs."

The Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 1,046 American adults Aug. 1-3 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 (49 percent) and women (51 percent).