According to a survey released Thursday by Falls-based , roughly 1 in 3 handshakes are done with a person who may not have washed their hands.
The survey queried state residents on how often they wash their hands after using a public restroom. A total of 66 percent said they always wash up, 29 percent said usually or about half the time and 4 percent said they usually don’t or never do.
The online survey of 301 Wisconsin adults was conducted Aug. 1 to 3.
But eyewitness accounts seem to show that there could be more unwashed hands out there.
When asked about others’ hand washing actions in public restrooms, 77 percent of Wisconsinites said they frequently or occasionally see people leave without washing their hands. Wisconsin men were significantly more likely to see this occur than women (38 percent of men frequently see non-hand washers vs. 18 percent of women).
The survey also found that the majority of Wisconsinites need to wash their hands longer. 56 percent say they wash for just 5 to 15 seconds. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing for at least 20 seconds and suggests singing “Happy Birthday” twice to allow enough time to remove germs and rinse them away.
For the second year in a row, Wisconsinites say they prefer to visit a gas station for a bathroom stop while on a road trip.
In an annual hand washing survey sponsored by Falls-based Bradley Corp., 33 percent of Wisconsin residents indicated a gas station was their first choice for a restroom break. Rest areas came in second with 28 percent of the vote and fast food restaurants finished third with 23 percent.
Kwik Trip was the gas station most commonly mentioned by name.
Interestingly, in the nationwide version of the survey, rest areas were the first choice for 29 percent of Americans. Fast food restaurants were second with 22 percent of the vote (McDonald’s was most frequently mentioned), and gas stations, Wisconsinites first choice, came in third with 17 percent.
And, although Wisconsinites prefer a gas station pit stop, when asked where they’ve had an unpleasant restroom experience, gas stations were mentioned most frequently.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unequivocal about the benefits of hand washing, calling it critical in preventing infection and illness:
“Hand washing is a simple thing to do and it’s the best way to prevent infection and illness,” the agency says. And by “washing your hands,” the CDC notes that nothing beats good old soap and water.
According to Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing & strategic development at Bradley Corp., the Healthy Hand Washing Survey serves a valuable purpose. “We want our annual survey to call attention to the importance of hand washing and the benefits it delivers because hand washing is truly the first defense against germs.”