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‘Disturbing’ bathroom habit Aussies do

It’s meant to be a habit instilled at a young age and more importantly, heightened due to the coronavirus pandemic – but it appears Aussies aren’t too fussed when it comes to this bathroom act. British tech company Dyson conducted a survey with 8,758 individuals across 14 countries to see how sentiment has changed surrounding…

It’s meant to be a habit instilled at a young age and more importantly, heightened due to the coronavirus pandemic – but it appears Aussies aren’t too fussed when it comes to this bathroom act.

British tech company Dyson conducted a survey with 8,758 individuals across 14 countries to see how sentiment has changed surrounding hand hygiene during the pandemic and some of the results have been described as both “disappointing” and “disturbing”.

The study revealed that 1 in 10 Aussies don’t wash their hands after using a bathroom since the outbreak.

Based on the 544 Aussies used in the research, just 45 per cent stated hygiene considerations as their main purpose for washing their hands.

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Some of the biggest hygiene concerns were related to using hand dryers in public spaces and having to press physical buttons.

The figures showed that 40 per cent of Australians are a lot more concerned visiting a public washroom compared to this time last year.

Naomi Williams — who owns Sydney-based company Kleen Freek and helps businesses reduce the spread of COVID-19 through sanitation and social distancing tools — said she isn’t surprised by the results.

“A lot of our clients, which are cleaning companies, replaced a lot more soap and paper towels [in] peak COVID, indicating that people’s behaviours are changing,” Ms Williams told news.com.au

“But more recently they have noticed people are starting to go back their old ways and habits, so it doesn’t surprise me that not many Aussies are washing their hands.”

She said it is “disappointing” because if people understood the importance of hand washing, “they would do it more”.

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“Basically, a virus enters your body through your mouth, nose and eyes, and studies show we touch our face up to 16 times in one hour. The simple act of hand washing removes germs at that point in time so when you do touch your face, it stops germs from entering your body.”

For those who believe toilet seats carry the most germs, think again, because high-touch surfaces like bathroom door handles are just as bad.

“Let’s hope people are washing their hands but there is too much evidence to suggest otherwise,” Ms Williams said.

She also explained that hand drying is just as important.

“Most people dry their hands using a towel which also needs to be washed more today than pre-COVID days.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom — out of the Aussies that actually wash their hands, which is 9 out of 10, 82 per cent repeat the act at least five times a day, compared to only 50 per cent pre-COVID, the Dyson study reveals.

“I’m encouraged to discover that since the COVID-19 pandemic started, 66 people of people in Australia are now less likely to leave the washroom without washing their hands,” Gem McLuckie, advanced researched scientist in Microbiology at Dyson told news.com.au

“However it’s concerning that more than 1 in 10 are still leaving the bathroom without washing their hands.”

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“There has been lots of publicity by the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the importance of and hygiene and washing your hands properly and how that can stop the spread of bacteria and viruses.

“With all the publicity, the fact that people are still taking those chances is a little disturbing.”

She said leading health organisations such as the WHO stipulate that you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and dry them properly afterwards.

“This isn’t just something they’ve just come up with – experts have noted that hands can transfer bacteria and viruses,” she said.

Ms McLuckie agrees with Ms Williams explaining that drying is just as important, adding that not many people are aware that damp hands can transfer up to 1,000 times more bacteria than dry hands.

This time last year, Dyson and YouGov conducted research that revealed almost 9 in 10 Australians (89 per cent) saw someone leave a public bathroom without washing or drying their hands.

“When thinking about hand hygiene, every step of the process is essential. From washing hands thoroughly to remove microorganisms from the skin, to drying them well. The reason for this is that dry hands help prevent the transfer of bacteria,” Ms McLukie said.

Dyson’s international hygiene study, in light of Global Handwashing Day on October 15, was also based on 1,000 respondents from China, 566 respondents in Italy and 1094 respondents from the US.

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.