How many of us wash our hands after we use the washroom? For quite some time, not nearly enough of us did. Studies sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) showed that in Boston, only 77% of American adults in 2007 were seen to wash their hands in public washrooms. In 2010, 85% of American adults were seen to wash their hands. In a telephone survey, 96% of adults said that they wash their hands after using a public restroom, this number has stayed fairly constant over the years. Certain trends are still noticeable throughout these studies; in a 2007 study, 88% of women in Boston were seen to wash their hands, while only 66% of men washed theirs. In the 2010 study, 77% of men washed their hands while 93% of women washed theirs. It seems in most cases, women will wash their hands more than men will.
In Chicago and San Francisco, a study in 1996 showed that only 68% of people washed their hands after using a public restroom. The study was repeated in 2000, and it was an all-time record low of 67% of people washing their hands. The highest rate of hand washing was seen in Chicago and San Francisco in 2010 when the study showed 89% of people washing their hands. A telephone study of 1,006 American adults showed that approximately 89% of people wash their hands after using the restroom at home, 82% of people after changing a diaper, and 77% of people before handling or eating food; but only 39% of people wash their hands after sneezing or coughing. Hand washing after coughing or sneezing is particularly important because many communicable diseases are usually transmitted through contaminated hand contact.