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1 in 5 People Don't Wash Their Hands

Patrick Boshell
October 01, 2013

Did you know that 1 in 5 people don't wash their hands and of those that do only 30% use soap.  The CDC recommends 15-20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water to effectively kill germs, but only about 5% of people wash their hands for 15-seconds or more.  The result -  fecal matter including bacteria such as E. coli can be found on just over a quarter of our hands according to a new study by hygiene experts from Queen Mary University of London.


Ironically, 91% of the participants in the study stated they washed their hands after using the toilet, although not surprising the level of fecal organisms found suggested otherwise. “People may tell us they wash their hands but the research shows us different, and highlights just how easily transferable these pathogens are,” said Dr Ron Cutler, who led the research at Queen Mary.  Released in support of Global Hand Washing Day, the findings highlight the importance of hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet.




Global Hand Washing Day (October 15th) was originally created for children and schools, but can be celebrated by everyone. “Our research shows just how important hand washing is - the surprising levels of contamination that we found on everyday objects is a sign that people are forgetting to wash their hands after the toilet, one of the key moments for infection prevention," said Dr. Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene.  


Over the past five years, Global Hand Washing Day has grown from a one-day celebration in a few cities to a worldwide movement.  Events include an attempt to set a record for the most people washing their hands at the same time and a microbiological investigation into the hygienic nature of currency.

Download Hand Washing PostersGlobal Hand Washing Day will also be celebrated virtually on Twitter and Facebook with the #iwashmyhands hashtag. Twitter users are encouraged to tweet #iwashmyhands to help raise awareness about the importance of hand washing correctly with soap.   There is also an interactive social media game available at which educates players about hygiene and allows them to share.


“We hope that on Global Hand Washing Day, people take the time to think about washing their hands with soap and make it a routine part of their daily lives,” adds Dr. Curtis.  For more information on how you can celebrate Global Hand Washing Day, visit and to find out how you can promote hand washing with soap throughout your workplace by visiting


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