Who Doesn’t Wash Their Hands?
Many of us will have seen people leave a public washroom without even dipping their hands under the tap and perhaps considered such disregard for bathroom hygiene the behaviour of a minority. However, washroom services company Initial Washroom Hygiene has revealed that this unhygienic habit is more common than you might think. Their survey of 100,000 people found that a remarkable 62% of men and 40% of women do not wash their hands after using the toilet. Initial Washroom Hygiene has been working on a product to address this, which they say increases hand washing rates by 50%.
Initial Hygiene Connect
The Initial Hygiene Connect gathers data from sensors on washroom doors and soap dispensers, and displays the percentage of people washing their hands on a screen outside the washroom. The idea is that seeing the stats should nudge toilet users in the direction of the sink.
“This is the first system that provides anonymous data back to washroom users and we have seen that it changes behaviour and genuinely reduces the risk of cross contamination,” says Stewart Power, marketing and innovation director of Initial Washroom Hygiene’s Parent Company, Rentokil Retail.
The product has already been released in the Netherlands and is soon to be available across Europe. If the technology works as it did when piloted, it should cause a significant increase in the number of people washing their hands. In the test run, the display of hand washing rates shot up to 90% in the first few days and settled at 80-85%.
Why Washing Your Hands Matters
Past research by Initial Washroom Hygiene has shown that using the toilet leaves people with around 200m bacteria per square inch on each hand. This, of course, is then widely spread to whatever they touch, including the washroom door and their own faces.
An American study found this bacteria to be particularly hazardous in an office environment, where a virus can spread through an office within two to four hours. They found that 40-60% of workers and visitors were infected after touching objects in the building.
With such surprisingly low numbers of both men and women washing their hands after a trip to the loo, it seems that the use of the Initial Hygiene Connect may be warranted in many washrooms.