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Half of the American population has continued to use public restrooms throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but an even larger percentage would feel even more comfortable if more touchless features were made available, according to a national survey by Bradley Corp.

Of the half of those surveyed who said they changed the way they visited public restrooms, just 13 percent said they completely avoided the area. The remaining 37 percent said they were uncomfortable but had, at times, utilized a public restroom when necessary.

The most common places where Americans used a public restroom were stores, restaurants and their workplace. The majority who visited public restrooms took precautions to reduce their likelihood of coming in contact with germs. Just under two-thirds had ahold of a paper towel as a protective barrier when they operated the toilet flusher and faucet handles or reached for door handles. Alternately, another group employed their foot to flush the toilet or opened and closed doors with their butt.

A Preference For Touchless

Since Americans have relied on evasive measures to avoid germs in public restrooms, it's not surprising that 84 percent believe it's important to have touchless fixtures. In fact, nearly 70 percent say they're more likely to return to a business that has touchless restroom features. On the other hand, 56 percent have a negative impression of a business that doesn't have touchless fixtures.

When it comes to which fixtures Americans prefer to be touchless, the toilet flusher, faucets and entrance doors top the list.

"Touchless restroom fixtures add a significant level of comfort for Americans when they're out and about and need to use a public restroom," says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp. "We've all become more cognizant of potentially germy touch points so eliminating an area of concern is another way we can help resume our normal lives again."

Germ Concerns Significant

The Healthy Handwashing Survey, which was conducted in January 2021, found that 86 percent of Americans are more conscious about coming in contact with germs as a result of the Coronavirus.

That concern has led to a spike in handwashing and hand drying. The survey revealed that nearly 90 percent are washing their hands more frequently or more thoroughly as a result of the Coronavirus. In terms of frequency, 57 percent are sudsing up between six to 15 or more times a day. And, 73 percent are drying their hands more frequently or more thoroughly.

That's significant because hand drying is an important step in the handwashing process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that, "Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing."

Overall, Americans correctly believe handwashing is a better germ-fighter than hand sanitizer. Just over 60 percent understand their hands are less germy after washing with soap and water than after using hand sanitizer – a fact supported by the CDC. For times when soap and water are not available, the CDC says that using hand sanitizer is a good, second option for hand hygiene.

"Handwashing remains one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay healthy and reduce the likelihood of spreading germs or viruses to others," says Dommisse. "When you pair soap and water with vigorous and thorough scrubbing, you're literally removing and sending bacteria and germs down the drain."