It’s official: a third of men don’t wash their hands

And now for a news story that will have half our readers nodding vigorously and saying “you do that” while the other half dismisses it as a load of old nonsense.

A recent survey has revealed that a third of men leave a public toilet without washing their hands – compared to just 12 per cent of women. In America, at least. What conclusions we Brits should draw about our personal hygiene, it’s hard to say.

The study was carried out by the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute (formerly the Soap and Detergent Association). It found that there had been a six per cent decline in hand-washing habits since a similar study was conducted in 2005.

It was carried out by observing the behaviour of around 6,000 adults (roughly half male and half female) in public toilets at six locations in four major US cities.

The toilets were “sufficiently equipped with soap, running water and towels” and the observers recorded whether or not they washed their hands after using the facilities.

The ACI describes how “observers discreetly watched and recorded whether or not adults using public restrooms washed their hands.

“Observers were instructed to groom themselves (comb their hair, put on make-up, etc) while observing and to rotate bathrooms every hour or so to avoid counting repeat users more than once.

“Observers were also instructed to wash their hands no more than 10 per cent of the time.”

If some of the recent news stories from America are to be believed, they were lucky not to be arrested.

In the meantime, we’d like to observe that handwashing over here largely depends on there being sufficient soap, hot water and drying facilities to make it feasible.

And what people do in the privacy of their own homes is entirely their own affair…

• Learn more about the benefits of clean hands from the American Cleaning Institute website here.