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Each year on Oct. 15, Global Handwashing Day is a world-wide reminder about the significant health benefits that handwashing delivers. Washing with soap and water and scrubbing vigorously for at least 20 seconds is a preventive measure that can stop the spread of colds, flus and other infectious diseases.

In the United States, Bradley Corporation, a manufacturer of commercial handwashing fixtures and washroom accessories, conducts an annual Healthy Handwashing Survey to shine a spotlight on the state of hand hygiene in America.

Not surprisingly, the 2021 findings show the coronavirus continues to influence domestic handwashing habits. In fact, the vast majority of Americans (86 percent) say they are now more conscious about coming into contact with germs than prior to the pandemic.

With an elevated state of germ consciousness as a backdrop, nearly 90 percent of American adults report the virus led them to step up their diligence by washing their hands more frequently or more thoroughly. Among that group, approximately two-thirds indicate they’ve maintained their increased habits throughout the pandemic.

Most Americans are also following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for how long they wash their hands – 67 percent say they wash their hands for 20 seconds or longer.

“Handwashing is such a simple action yet it’s a powerful defense against the spread of germs,” says Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing and corporate communication for Bradley Corp. “This Global Handwashing Day, we’re encouraging everyone to continue to keep their guard up and wash their hands frequently and thoroughly throughout the day.”

The Healthy Handwashing Survey has been able to chart differences in handwashing behavior before, during and after the initial wave of the pandemic.

Prior to COVID, the survey found that 37 percent of Americans were washing their hands six or more times a day. In April 2020, the percent rose to 78 percent and in January 2021 it dropped to 57 percent who were sudsing up at least six times a day.

In addition, COVID has highlighted the importance of hand drying to reduce the spread of germs. Seventy-three percent of Americans say the virus has led them to dry their hands more thoroughly or more frequently. That’s key since the 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. Sixty-one 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.