Skeptical facial expression

“Go wash your hands” is a phrase used frequently in households throughout the country. However, according to a recent Healthy Handwashing Survey, only 25 percent of parents actually believe their children always wash up when they tell them to do so. 

Fathers are slightly more trusting of their kids’ handwashing follow through. 60 percent of dads believe their kids wash their hands at least 75 percent of time when they tell them, compared to only 51 percent of mothers.

Why don’t more moms and dads trust their children? The answer is simple: they themselves admit to cheating the system when they were young. 

Almost 60 percent of parents say, as kids, they would just run the water when their parents instructed them to wash their hands. 

So, what’s a parent to do to get their kids to suds up?

  • 57 percent of American adults simply ask their children to wash their hands. 35 percent buy fun soaps to make the process more interesting, 34 percent incorporate handwashing into their kids’ routines at certain times and 19 percent turn it into a contest or game. 


Thankfully, schools and daycares are also practicing hand hygiene. Nearly two-thirds of parents report that time for handwashing is built into their child’s daily schedule. 

The findings are from annual research conducted by Bradley Corporation, a manufacturer of commercial restroom fixtures, including touchless handwashing and drying elements.

“Establishing the habit of handwashing from early on is a smart move by parents,” says Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing and corporate communication for Bradley Corp. “It’s a scientific fact that the act of washing your hands with soap and water removes germs and keeps children and families healthier. I’d say it probably keeps them happier too since they’re not constantly dealing with sickness.” 

Handwashing Rises in Advance of Travel

With spring break and Easter travel coming up, the Healthy Handwashing Survey found Americans increase their hand hygiene before a trip, while they are traveling and before special occasions.

During road trips, 75 percent of adults make a conscious effort to wash their hands wherever they stop along the way. 69 percent are diligent about sudsing up when at an airport and 63 percent do the same as a special occasion or the holidays approach. 

In addition to the physical benefits, there are emotional upsides. Almost 70 percent say they feel healthier or safer immediately after washing their hands. 

Germ Avoidance and Handwashing Habits

  • Americans seem to be creatures of habit when it comes to germ avoidance and cleaning their hands. 
  • While using a public restroom, 62 percent say they typically grab a paper towel to avoid touching door handles, faucet handles and toilet flushers. 43 percent use their foot to flush the toilet and 31 percent hover above the toilet seat to direct contact. 
  • With so much effort going into evading germs, it’s no wonder that 82 percent of adults believe it is important to have touchless fixtures in a public restroom. 


When washing their hands, the survey uncovered that Americans have their own handwashing routines. 

  • 51 percent wait for the water to get hot before washing their hands. 49 percent flick their hands over the sink before drying them and 39 percent check their appearance in the mirror. 
  • There are also some specific actions that trigger Americans to always wash their hands. 68 percent wash up after sneezing or coughing and approximately 50 percent of the population wash after visiting a doctor’s office or shaking someone’s hand.


The annual Healthy Handwashing Survey from Bradley Corp. queried 1,025 American adults Jan. 4-10, 2023, about their handwashing habits, concerns about the coronavirus and flu and their use of public restrooms. Participants were from around the country and were fairly evenly split between men (45 percent) and women (55 percent). 

For related trends, check out this survey breaking down hand washing trends by gender.