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Several years ago the American Society for Microbiology conducted an experiment to find out how many people who claimed they washed their hands after using a public restroom actually did so, and discovered that only two-third were following through. The rest were potentially spreading viruses and bacteria.

Setting the Mood

Aside from having hand sanitizer dispensers at doorways and on desks, the best opportunity to remove harmful microbes from hands is in the restroom which is best achieved through a combination of a clean appearance, appealing products, the right equipment and appropriate signage.

It would depend very much on the cleanliness of the restroom whether its occupants wash their hands for 15 seconds or bolt out the door. Since people are more apt to spending time washing and drying their hands when the restroom feels healthful and appealing, creating that image is vital.

While janitors cannot force people to wash up, they can offer incentives that increase the likelihood. First, remind patrons of the importance of hand washing with signs which are often available for free online and by distributors.

Posters from manufacturers explain the risks, benefits and techniques of proper hand washing and can be a helpful component in preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Kids respond very well to posters hung at drinking fountains, in gymnasiums, in locker rooms and at cafeterias. These visible reminders are probably the best thing cleaners can do to encourage hand washing.

The Right Equipment

It is also important to provide hand-washing products that people want to use. Identifying which type of soap and towel the users prefer may be a matter of trial and error, but hand-free technology is a must.

No matter what type of dispenser is used, many distributors encourage the use of soap cartridge systems. The suggestion is primarily because janitors don’t typically clean traditional receptacles between refills which can breed bacteria.

No scent or a very light scent is recommended for the most universal appeal. It will also not aggravate allergy-prone noses. Sensitive skin should be kept in mind too, especially in the winter, as soap that abrades already dry skin may dampen enthusiasm for hand washing.

Positioning soap within easy reach, near water, hand-drying equipment and trash receptacles is another way to make the task of washing easier. It also helps keep the restroom tidier.

Electric or battery-powered hand dryers can encourage hand washing because they don’t run out like towels can. New, more powerful models can also dry hands in as little as 15 seconds.

Paper towels have positive attributes too. They provide quick drying and if automatic dispensers are used, there are no buttons or leverage to touch helping to reduce cross-contamination. Towel dispensers can also be designed to coordinate with other products to dictate an overall tone in the restroom.

Whether it’s due to the type of product, its placement within the restroom or recent health scares, hand hygiene is on the rise. People who were reluctant to wash their hands before are washing now for their own personal safety.

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