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Survey: Americans avoid touching handles but use their phones in public bathrooms

Bradley’s 2016 Healthy Hand Washing Survey offers insights into restroom use.

June 15, 2016 |

Images courtesy Bradley

The restroom fixture manufacturer Bradley released its 2016 Healthy Hand Washing Survey, which gives some insight into bathroom problems, usage, and possible improvements. 

The results come from a national online survey of 1,062 American adults split nearly evenly among men and women. They were asked about their hand washing habits in public restrooms and concerns about germs and sanitation.

Bradley identified 10 trends in public bathrooms:

  1. Respondents use their cell phones in restroom stalls, using their devices to text, surf the web, and check social media and email. Eight percent of men say they’ve checked their fantasy sports league while in a stall.
  2. People try to avoid touching surfaces like door handles, stall doors, faucets, sinks, and soap and towel dispensers.
  3. People make an effort to dodge germs. They operate the toilet flusher with their foot, use a paper towel when touching the restroom door and faucet handles, and open and close doors with their hip.
  4. The most frustrating restroom situation is empty or jammed toilet paper dispensers. People also dislike partition doors that don’t latch, empty or jammed towel or soap dispensers, and bathrooms that appear dirty.
  5. Respondents judge businesses based on a restroom’s cleanliness. Most say that a messy restroom indicates poor management and a lack of concern about appearance or customer satisfaction.
  6. Nearly 70% say they have had an unpleasant experience because of the conditions in a public restroom. The figure is up from 51% in 2012.
  7. People aren’t as fond of their workplace restrooms anymore. Only half now describe the restrooms at their workplace as excellent or very good, compared to 66% in 2012.
  8. Almost 80% say they frequently or occasionally see others leave a public restroom without washing their hands. Twenty percent of men disclosed they skip washing because they didn’t feel the need.
  9. Of those who say they don’t wash their hands, most attribute that to a lack of resources like soap or paper towels, or dirty or broken sinks.
  10. People would like to see public bathrooms add touchless fixtures and paper towels (even if there are dryers). More frequent cleanings are also a suggestion.

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