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Hand Hygiene Habits Improve

Survey Shows Americans Are Cleaning Up Their Hand Washing Habits
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 22, 2009 -- Americans get a B- for their hand hygiene in a new survey about hand washing. That grade is up from a C- in 2008.

The new, improved grade is based on a survey of 888 U.S. adults. The survey, which was conducted by phone in August for the Soap and Detergent Association, gets into the nitty gritty of how often -- or how rarely -- participants wash their hands.

Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • Half of the participants say they wash their hands more than 10 times daily, up from 36% in 2008.
  • Women wash their hands more often than men do. For instance, 62% of women reported that they wash their hands more than 10 times daily, compared to 37% of men. And 41% of men say they wash their hands six times a day or less, compared to 17% of women.
  • 88% of participants say they "always" or "frequently" wash their hands before lunch.
  • 90% of participants say they always wash their hands after going to the bathroom, up 5% since 2008. But 3% say they never do, which is the same percentage as last year.

The survey has a margin of error of 3.4%.

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