So Are Americans Washing...or Not?

August 27, 2009

School is either in session or just around the corner in the U.S.,  and concerns over H1NI—more commonly known as swine flu—are heating up again. Parents, caregivers and education officials are stocking up on hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes and pushing healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of the virus, which made headlines near the end of the last school year.
Basic hand washing with soap and water is said to be one of the best defenses, but is anyone doing it? 
According to a recent poll on H1N1 flu conducted by the American Red Cross,  Americans are taking or planning on taking extra measures, like covering their coughs and sneezes with tissue (78%) or washing their hands more carefully (76%) to avoid getting the flu. 
Yet just a few days before the Red Cross released its findings, another poll showed maybe consumers aren’t hand washing more since H1N1 became part of our lexicon.
In a national survey by Bradley Corporation, a Milwaukee, WI-based manufacturer of commercial bathroom and locker room furnishings, 54% of respondents said they "wash their hands no more or less frequently" in public restrooms since the H1N1 virus emerged.
Bradley's survey, conducted online at the end of July queried 1,020 Americans about hand washing in public restrooms. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 65-plus and were equally divided by gender.  Although 87% said they did wash their hands after using public lavatories, other responses indicate some may have exaggerated how often they did the job correctly. When asked if they had also used soap, the numbers declined slightly to 86%, yet 55% of the group admitted on occasion they've simply rinsed, without using soap.
Of course, polls can be found to support either side of an issue, but we wonder:  with swine flu still a topic of discussion, should soapers do more to promote the benefits of hand washing—with soap? It can help stop the spread of illness—and sell more bars too.

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