One In 10 Of Those Observed In Study Didn't Wash At All In Restroom

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Next time you head to a public restroom, be aware that a new study says 95 percent of us do not wash our hands the right way.

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As CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reported Wednesday, researchers from Michigan State University observed the hand-washing habits of nearly 4,000 people in public restrooms. One in 10 didn’t wash at all, and out of those who did, only two out of three used soap.

“It’s kind of sickening,” said Sydni Ganaway of Harlem.

“It’s just disgusting,” said Leslie Inzunza, a mother.

We are supposed to wash our hands for at least 15 seconds — the same time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. The study found only 5 percent of us do that.

Dr. Philip Tierno of NYU Langone Medical Center said he is not surprised.

“The Mayo Clinic has a saying — the 10 dirtiest things on your body are your fingers,” said Tierno, director of clinical microbiology at the hospital.

The biggest excuse Tierno hears is that it takes too long.

“Do you have time to get ill?” Tierno said. “Do you have time to be waylayed two or three days in agony like getting a stomach flu, the vomit, diarrhea virus?”

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We all know to wash our hands top and bottom. But you should also get the soap underneath the fingernail bed by dragging your nails across the palm of your hands.

In some bathrooms, you have a choice between a hand dryer or paper towels. So which one is a better choice?

Dr. Tierno said use the paper towel to protect yourself from all those germs on the bathroom door handle, and when it comes to shaking hands, Dr. Tierno said to try to avoid it.

“Just say, ‘Handshaking spreads germs,’ then bump, or ‘Hi!’” Tierno said.

But if you have to shake, he advises using a hand sanitizer right away.

When it comes to hand-washing, sometimes kids have better habits. CBS 2’s Hsu asked Olivia Stone, 5, how long we need to wash.

“You got to do it for two minutes,” Olivia said. “If you don’t do it, then you’ll get sick.”

The study also found men tend to skip washing their hands twice as often as women.

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