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Hand Hygiene Habits Improve

Survey Shows Americans Are Cleaning Up Their Hand Washing Habits

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 22, 2009
From the WebMD Archives

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%.