A man in a brown suit washing his hands in a public restroom

Men are significantly more concerned about contracting the coronavirus than women, according to a national survey by Bradley Corporation.

The Healthy Handwashing Survey found that 62% of men are “very concerned” about getting the virus compared to 45% of women who expressed the same level of trepidation. In fact, throughout the survey responses, men showed a higher level of anxiety about getting sick and were more likely to take their hand hygiene more seriously than women. That’s significant since men have consistently underperformed women in handwashing diligence during the past 12 years that the Healthy Handwashing Survey has been conducted.

The annual Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corp. queried 1,050 American adults this January about their concerns about the coronavirus and flu, handwashing habits and public restroom usage. Participants were from around the country and were evenly split between men and women.

When asked about the flu virus, 51% of men said they were “very concerned” about contracting it versus just 38% of women who felt the same way.


In terms of handwashing, men were more likely to have maintained their increased handwashing habits throughout the pandemic. Just under 70% of men have continued to wash their hands more frequently or thoroughly since the pandemic first began. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of women. Just 57% of females have kept up their elevated handwashing routines.

In addition to lathering up more in response to the coronavirus, men are also doing a better job of drying their hands. More than 80% of men said they are drying more thoroughly or longer versus 63% of women.

Hand drying is an important step in the handwashing process that shouldn’t be skipped. 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.”

Reports of new strains of the coronavirus are also causing men to take action. Three in four men said those reports had an additional impact on their handwashing behavior compared to 60% of women. 

Men and women come together more closely in the likelihood of maintaining their current handwashing habits. Just under 60% of men and 51% of women say they’ll keep up their pandemic handwashing routines.

“In our previous surveys, women have always led the way with their handwashing actions,” says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp. "It’s encouraging to see that more men are incorporating more thorough and frequent handwashing into their daily routine because it is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of germs and illness.”

Overall, Americans correctly believe handwashing is a better germ-fighter than hand sanitizer. Just over 60% understand their hands have less germs on them 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.

As for greeting others, whether you’re male or female, shaking hands seems to be a thing of the past. Of those surveyed, 45% avoid shaking hands. Instead, they employ a friendly wave, fist or elbow bump or air hug.