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One in four UK men still not scrubbing up when it comes to washing hands

One in four UK men still not scrubbing up when it comes to washing hands

Public health advice is still falling on deaf ears, with as many as one in four men still not washing their hands properly, according to research by Just Sanitise.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, handwashing for more than 20 seconds has been pitted as one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses. Yet one in five of all UK men, and as many as one in four 25-to-44 year-olds, are not adhering to the guidance.

In a survey of 1,500 adults in the UK, men aged 35-44 in England appeared to be the least likely to sing two verses of ‘Happy Birthday’ when confronted with soap and water (one in four), compared to their similar-aged counterparts in Scotland (one in seven) and Northern Ireland (one in five).

Men (across all age ranges) in Wales appear the most hygiene conscious, with 95% of all those surveyed washing for more than 20 seconds. Conversely, men in England bring the overall average down, with 1 in 5 avoiding the advised wash time.

In stark contrast nine out of ten women will wash their hands for the full 20 seconds, with little variation across any of the home nations.

And women over the age of 65 have been proven to be the most hygiene-conscious hand washers, with 95% of all those surveyed obeying the 20 seconds.

Just Sanitise, who commissioned the research, is an alliance of businesses based in Aberdeen, manufacturing 80% alcohol hand sanitiser spray that kills bacteria and is effective against viruses, including the human coronavirus. Its hand sanitiser passed a BS EN 14476 test that shows it takes two minutes to be effective against coronavirus.

The alliance has been helping address the supply and demand issue for effective bacteria and virus-killing sanitiser across both the public and private sector.

Central to Government advice at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock advised the nation on the importance of washing their hands more often, washing for 20 seconds, using soap and water or hand sanitiser. He said that washing hands regularly is the single most important thing that an individual can do to protect against Covid-19.

Nicola Hartland, Co-founder and CEO of sanitiser firm Just Sanitise, said:

“With such high profile, Government-led campaigning to help the UK fight Covid-19, it came as something as a surprise to see such high rates of non-adherence to such important guidance.

“The recent clusters in Leicester, areas of the North West of England, as well as Aberdeen, have been a massive blow for the economy, particularly for the hospitality, leisure and hair and beauty sectors, but it has also been a wake-up call that the health, safety and protection of staff and customers must be a priority as we continue to fight this ongoing battle with a deadly virus and it’s crucial that businesses invest in the most effective PPE.

“We are currently working with businesses and community group across lockdown areas, providing sanitiser donations, helping them during the current restrictions and supporting them for eventual reopening.”

Research was undertaken via Google Surveys on 11thAugust 2020 with a sample size of 1,500.

Handwashing split by gender and age – UK sample

  Spend less than 20 seconds washing hands
Age Men Women
18-24 17.5% 17.0%
25-34 22.1% 12.8%
35-44 23.5% 10.3%
45-54 15.5% 12.5%
55-64 18.6% 10.6%
65+ 17.8% 5.1%

 Handwashing split by gender and nation – UK sample

  Spend less than 20 seconds washing hands
Nation Men Women
England 20.2% 12.0%
Scotland 16.9% 10.9%
Wales 5.1% 12.9%
N Ireland 19.2% 12.7%


**Additional age and regional breakdowns are available on request.