More than one in 10 adults not cleaning their hands after using the toilet despite coronavirus, new study finds

Some admit to coughing and not sanitising afterwards too

Astrid Hall
Wednesday 22 July 2020 16:03 BST
Personal hygiene remains a key way for people around the world to combat the virus
Personal hygiene remains a key way for people around the world to combat the virus

The average adult is now washing and sanitising their hands eight times a day – but more than one in 10 still admitted to not cleaning them after using the toilet.

A study of 2,000 UK adults found that despite government advice to keep on top of handwashing to stop the spread of the virus, 12 per cent still go to the loo, including public toilets, without washing their hands.

Despite this, figures show the average adult is now washing and sanitising their hands more regularly – doing so just five times a day before the outbreak.

And the time spent soaping their hands has increased from less than 13 seconds before Covid-19 to an average of 19 seconds now.

The study, by hygiene services provider Citron Hygiene, also found that before the call to increase hand-washing, 45 per cent admitted to coughing and not washing their hands afterwards.

Another three in 10 would sneeze into their hand without sanitising after.

A quarter of Brits wouldn’t wash their hands before preparing food before the pandemic, and two-fifths wouldn’t do so before eating a meal.

However, 83 per cent will now always wash their hands after coughing, and 85 per cent after sneezing.

Robert Guice, international executive vice president, at Citron Hygiene said: “It’s everyone’s responsibility to stay hygienic but it is sad to see that many are not doing this.

“It’s shocking to still see more than 10 per cent of the nation popping to the toilet and not washing their hands, when washing and sanitising your hands is the easiest and simplest way to stop the spread.

“It gives everyone more peace of mind when so much is out of your control.

“Despite habits shifting, there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially as restrictions ease and we are given more freedom – if not only for yourself, but for the benefit of others.”

The study also found eight in 10 wouldn’t wash their hands after using a mobile phone pre-pandemic, but this has dropped to six in 10 now.

Brits are also now more likely to wash their hands after using a laptop or keyboard, visiting the supermarket and playing with pets.

As a result, half of those polled are also using antibacterial hand gel more now than they did before coronavirus, while three in 10 are disinfecting the house more often.

A further 78 per cent are washing their hands more now, with a fifth doing so for their own personal hygiene reasons.

But 13 per cent admitted they head to the sink more often because they are afraid of catching the virus.

Worryingly, just one in 20 are considering the knock-on effect of their actions by washing their hands more frequently because of a fear of passing coronavirus onto others.

The research, conducted via OnePoll, also found 45 per cent said their decision to return to their favourite shops, restaurants and bars has been affected by the need to use a bathroom away from their home and the potential germs they might come into contact with.

But having hand sanitiser at the exit (51 per cent) and motion sensors on things like flushes to avoid having to touch surfaces (44 per cent) would make people more comfortable using a public loo.

More than a third would even like to see doors you don’t have to touch with your hand, and 31 per cent would like signage documenting when the bathroom was last cleaned.

Yet, less than a fifth would feel more comfortable using a public restroom if facemasks were compulsory.

It also emerged 27 per cent are fearful of returning to their place of work but would feel more confident if their workplace was fitted with hand sanitiser dispensers, surface wipes and air cleaning systems to remove airborne bacteria.

Mr Guice added: “Washroom hygiene has never been more important with the need to provide solutions that make people feel safe when using away from home facilities now the number one priority for businesses.

“Washrooms will come under high levels of scrutiny from customers as we continue to adapt to new ways of living.

“It’s important that businesses ensure that their spaces are well-maintained and properly stocked in order to provide a safe and hygienic environment.

“For many businesses, washrooms will now become a central part of their operation.

“Visible signs of regular cleaning, sanitisation and maintenance will be vital for their reputation and responsibility to help control the spread of infection.”


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in