Only 5 percent wash hands correctly in bathrooms
In elementary school, many of us learned that you should wash your hands with soap and water for the length of time it took you to sing the alphabet – about 15 to 20 seconds. Apparently, most of us have forgotten that advice. According to a new study from Michigan State University, only five percent of people wash their hands long enough to kill harmful bacteria after using the bathroom. But that’s not all. The researchers found that one-third of people don't use soap when "washing" their hands and one in 10 skips the sink altogether.
The study authors trained a dozen university students to inconspicuously collect data on hand-washing behavior in bars, restaurants and other public places. Overall, the undercover students observed 3,749 people, discovering that the vast majority of people fell short in following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation of washing their hands for at leasts 15 seconds. Only half of men were found to use soap, and 15 percent didn't wash their hands at all, compared to 78 percent of women who used soap and seven percent who didn't wash their hands.
The study also found that people were less likely to wash their hands when staring at a dirty sink, where a clean sink generally increased the length of time spent handwashing. In addition, people were more likely to wash their hands earlier in the day and if there was a sign encouraging them to do so – especially in men's bathrooms.
The CDC stresses the importance of washing your hands as a means of preventing infectious disease--half of all food borne illness outbreaks can be associated with unclean hands.