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Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey

Soap industry gives America a B-minus for hygiene habits

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- You're doing better, America, but with only a "B-minus" grade in hand-hygiene habits, you've still got a ways to go, an industry-sponsored survey finds.

This year's results are up from a "C-minus" last year, but the fifth annual "Clean Hands Report Card," distributed by the Soap and Detergent Association, still finds room for improvement.

The good news: 50 percent of the 888 respondents to the August telephone survey said they wash their hands more than 10 times per day. That's up from 36 percent the previous year.

And 70 percent say they wash their hands at least seven times per day.

But there's bad news too. Only 37 percent of men are washing their hands more than 10 times a day, compared to 62 percent of women. And nearly half of those surveyed wash their hands for 15 seconds or less (the government recommends hand-washing for at least 15 to 20 seconds). And only 26 percent always wash their hands after they cough or sneeze.

"The H1N1 pandemic is real. Cold and flu season is on its way. With common sense hygiene practices, good health is literally in our hands," said Nancy Bock, vice president of education for the association, in a prepared statement. "Now is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to cleaning our hands."

More information

Learn more about hand hygiene in the health care setting from the CDC.

--Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Soap and Detergent Association, news release, Sept. 21, 2009

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