MENOMONEE FALLS, Wisc.—Half of the U.S. population uses public restrooms, and 84% are in favor of bathroom fixtures they don’t have to touch, according to Bradley’s 2021 Healthy Handwashing Survey.
According to the survey, 13% of Americans said they completely avoid public restrooms, while 50% said they visit public restrooms as they always have. An additional 37% said they were uncomfortable with public facilities but utilized them when necessary.
The most common places where Americans use public restrooms are stores, restaurants and their workplace. The majority take precautions to reduce possible contact with germs. Of survey respondents, 63% hold a paper towel as a protective barrier when operating the toilet flusher or touching faucet or door handles. Others said they used their foot to flush the toilet or opened and closed doors with a hip.
Since Americans want to avoid germs in public restrooms, it’s no surprise that 84% believe it’s important to have touchless fixtures in public facilities. Nearly 70% said they’re more likely to return to a business that has touchless restroom features, while 56% said they get a negative impression of a business that doesn’t have touchless fixtures.
“Touchless restroom fixtures add a significant level of comfort for Americans when they’re out and about and need to use a public restroom,” said Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development, Bradley Corp. “We’ve all become more cognizant of potentially germy touchpoints, so eliminating an area of concern is another way we can help resume our normal lives again.”
Overall, Americans believe handwashing is a better germ-fighter than using hand sanitizer, and 61% understand their hands are less germy after washing with soap and water than after using hand sanitizer. For times when soap and water aren’t available, the Centers for Disease Control says that using hand sanitizer is a good, second option for hand hygiene.
“Handwashing remains one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay healthy and reduce the likelihood of spreading germs or viruses to others,” said Dommisse. “When you pair soap and water with vigorous and thorough scrubbing, you’re literally removing and sending bacteria and germs down the drain.”
The annual Healthy Handwashing study was conducted in January and surveyed 1,050 American adults regarding public restroom usage, handwashing habits and concerns about COVID-19 and flu. Participants were from around the country and evenly split between men and women.
In a NACS consumer survey, conducted pre-pandemic in January 2020, nearly one in five fuel customers (19%) who also went inside the store said they went inside to use the bathroom. Consumers also said that a clean bathroom was the fifth most important reason in selecting a store to purchase gas on a trip, behind gas price, ease of entrance or exit, store location and fuel brand.
To see how cleanliness can win over female shoppers, be sure to check out “Winning Over Women” in NACS Magazine.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.