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National Clean Hands Week

Clean Hands Report Card

Americans Get a "C" for Hygiene

In the midst of cold and flu season, The Soap and Detergent Association reports that FACSs need to do a better job of when and how they wash their hands.

SDA's Clean Hands Report CardSM gives Americans a "C" for hand hygiene, although many would give themselves a higher grade.

Survey says:

  • 43% seldom or never wash their hands after coughing or sneezing. One of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or eyes after touching someone or something contaminated with the cold virus.
  • 32% don't always wash before eating lunch. That means germs that were on the change, door handle, and elevator button might find their way onto the midday turkey sandwich.
  • 54% don't wash their hands long enough to effectively remove germs and dislodge dirt. The CDC and SDA recommend washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

According to the survey, 90% of Americans said they always washed their hands after using the bathroom, while eight percent said they frequently washed, and two percent said they seldom or never washed. Apparently, there's a major gap between what people say and what they do. A 2003 observational study by the American Society for Microbiology found that one third of public restroom users did not wash their hands.

When to Wash

"More Americans should know that their health is literally in their hands. Handwashing is critical in these key instances,"
  • when preparing food
  • before meals and snacks
  • after using the restroom
  • after touching animals
  • when hands are dirty
  • when you or someone around you is ill

Hygiene Tools at Hand

When soap and water aren't available, instant hand sanitizers, gels, and foams are effective in killing germs on hands. Disposable hand wipes are another alternative for people with active lifestyles.