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73 Million Americans Did Not Wash Their Hands Today

Patrick Boshell
July 11, 2017



“Just Do It” has become known as the last great slogan of our time. Intended to inspire with its sheer simplicity – it has motivated millions to get up and get active for many years.


Ironically this famous slogan was inspired by the execution of a convicted murderer named Gary Gilmore. He was executed in Utah by firing squad in 1977.  His last words to the warden were, “Let’s do it.” 


A young advertising executive named Dan Wieden watched a news report about the execution on TV and was struck by Gilmore’s willingness to face uncertainty head-on. A few years later, he was challenged to come up with a slogan for a new client named Nike. He remembered the famous last words and changed it slightly to “Just Do It.” 


As a marketer, I have always been fascinated with the idea of motivating people to do something. It may sound easy, but if you have ever tried to get a child to clean up their toys, you quickly realize you need to think fast if you want to outsmart a 5-year old. It doesn’t get any easier when those kids become teenagers, especially in today’s digital era with a million little distractions at their fingertips. 


34% of Americans Do Not Wash Their Hands After Using the Restroom


Now imagine trying to get an entire nation to wash their hands, and in an instant, you realize the potential motivational power of great advertising. While 92% of Americans say, they believe it’s important to wash their hands after using the restroom, only 66% do. Even worse, almost 70% of those same people admitted to washing without soap and skipping that essential part of the hygiene process.


"On any given day 73 million Americans did not wash their hands after using the washroom, and for those that did, 99.2 million people did not use soap."


Now just consider that the United States, for example, is the 3rd largest population in the world with an estimated 324.4 million people. The average life expectancy is 80 and teens plus adults (15-64 years old) make up about 66.2% of the population or approximately 214.8 million. 


That means on any given day 73 million Americans did not wash their hands after using the washroom, and for those that did, 99.2 million people did not use soap. Combined that equals 172.2 million Americans (ages 15-64) that have better things to do than washing their hands effectively and each of those people will use the restroom on average six times per day.


Bringing It All Together




What do you think are the chances you met someone today that did not wash their hands? Maybe they are in the cubicle beside you right now, or you sat beside them on your commute into the office. Maybe they touched the door handle just before you or are pressing buttons on the photocopier right now. Maybe they poured your morning coffee or greeted you with a warm handshake during today’s meeting.


The point is that no amount of advertising, promotion or smart marketing is going to change people’s behavior all that much when it comes to hand hygiene. People are exposed to 5,000 ads every day, and with all our digital distractions, I applaud anyone who is still reading this right now.


Every day, we are the one's at risk of infection and foodborne illness and the only way to change things is to start with our own behavior. When it comes to hand hygiene, it’s all about you. Please “Just Do It.”


Learn more about the Hand Washing Technique




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