Avoiding Germs With Healthy Handwashing Habits

Avoiding Germs With Healthy Handwashing Habits

Current data shows that most Americans value healthy handwashing habits, though approximately half do not follow recommended guidelines, highlighting the importance of ongoing enhanced cleaning services in public facilities.

Avoiding Germs With Healthy Handwashing Habits

The Role of Healthy Handwashing Habits

Healthy handwashing habits play a critical role in human and building safety by reducing the presence of disease-causing germs on occupants' hands and indirectly on facility surfaces.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health;

Hand Washing plays a major role in preventing the spread of diseases.

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water can protect you from many illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria.

Washing removes germs you pick up when you touch people, animals, or surfaces.

If not removed, these germs may get into your eyes, nose, or mouth and cause illness.

Make Hand Washing a Healthy Habit

A recent handwashing survey conducted and published by the Bradley Corporation shows that American adults place high importance on clean hands and handwashing habits.

According to the survey:

  • 93% of adults believe handwashing is essential to maintaining their overall health.
  • 75% of adults say they consciously wash their hands wherever they stop during road trips.
  • 69% of individuals claim to wash their hands more diligently when they are at an airport.
  • 63% of people pay particular attention to hand hygiene during special events or holidays.
  • Approximately 70% of respondents reported feeling healthier or safer immediately after washing their hands, and interestingly;
  • 65% of Americans have a negative impression when they see someone who doesn't wash their hands after using a restroom.

Unfortunately, available data suggests we are not washing our hands well or often enough to kill or remove germs and bacteria.

According to a 2013 study conducted by Michigan State University:

[...] only 5 percent of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections.

What’s more, 33 percent didn’t use soap, and 10 percent didn’t wash their hands at all.

Eww! Only 5 percent wash hands correctly

A recent YouGov poll supports the Michigan study.

A YouGov poll of more than 24,000 US adults finds that many Americans don’t always wash their hands with soap after they go to the bathroom.

Over half (58%) of US adults say they always wash their hands with soap after going to the restroom at home.

A quarter (25%) say they wash with soap most of the time after a trip to the bathroom at home, while 10% do this some of the time and 4 percent rarely do.

Many Americans don't always wash their hands after going to the bathroom


What Are Healthy Handwashing Habits?

Healthy handwashing habits are practices and techniques recommended to effectively clean one's hands to remove germs and reduce the risk of illness, and typically include:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
  • Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.  Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

It is important to remember to wash your hands at critical junctures, such as before and after eating, after using the restroom, after blowing your nose or sneezing, after caring for someone who is sick, and after touching surfaces in public areas.

It is also important to note that hand sanitizer can be an effective alternative to handwashing when soap and water are not available.

However, it is important to choose a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and to use enough sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands.


What Happens When You Don't Wash Your Hands

Failing to adhere to healthy handwashing habits, particularly in public facilities, will result in a host of health and financial issues, including:

  • Increased disease transmission and infection rates, particularly gastrointestinal, respiratory, and skin infections.
  • More sick days, especially among younger students.
  • Significant economic impacts due to decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs, and;
  • Potentially death due to sepsis.


Financial Incentives for Implementing Healthy Handwashing Programs in Public Buildings

Implementing healthy handwashing habits in local businesses can positively impact the overall health of the entire community.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), improving hand hygiene can reduce;

[...] respiratory illnesses, like colds, by 21%.

[...] the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 31%, and;

[...] diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%.

Hand Hygiene at Work

Improving facility hand hygiene has numerous business-focused incentives.

According to the results of a long-term (4-year) hand hygiene intervention study in the workplace;

Implementation of the program significantly improved self-reported hand hygiene practices and attitudes in the intervention group, with increased frequency of hand washing (self-reported), employee satisfaction with office cleanliness, and perception that the company cared for their well-being and disease prevention in the workplace.

At the intervention sites, the availability of the product significantly increased participant's sense of control of their health/well-being, ability to interact with coworkers in the workplace environment without worry about transmissible illness, satisfaction with hand hygiene products provided by their employer, likelihood to comply with optimum hand hygiene practice and overall positive impression of their company.

Following the introduction of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the office, 40% more employees in the intervention group reported cleaning their work area regularly to prevent illness compared with both the baseline and control group.


Hygiene-preventable healthcare claims were significantly reduced in the intervention group by over 20%.

Absenteeism was positively impacted overall for the intervention group.

Employee survey data showed significant improvements in hand hygiene behavior and perception of company concern for employee well-being.

Impact of a Comprehensive Workplace Hand Hygiene Program on Employer Health Care Insurance Claims and Costs, Absenteeism, and Employee Perceptions and Practices


References & Resources



High-quality handwashing habits with soap and water are critical to public health and safety, but studies continuously demonstrate that it cannot be counted on as a primary method for germ prevention due to a lack of proper adherence.

Environmental cleaning protocols that focus on occupant health can address the gaps in occupant handwashing practices by reducing the presence of pathogens, bacteria, and other microbes on commonly touched surfaces, thereby preventing the transmission of the most common illnesses.

Product, equipment, and cross-contamination prevention training are crucial for ensuring optimum cleaning outcomes and occupant safety.

Unfortunately, onboarding and managing the requisite labor and material resources in the current market may prove cost-prohibitive and undesirable for many organizations.

Outsourcing is a proven method for onboarding skilled service providers equipped with the latest training, processes, and technologies for a fraction of the price of maintaining a comparable service in-house.

Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450

In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410

In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.