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Clean Hands Report Card

Americans Get a "B-" on Hand Hygiene

  • SDA Survey Shows More People Claim to Be Washing Hands
  • 2009 Grade Improves from 2008’s C-
  • SDA Offers Virtual Cold & Flu Toolkits at

Summary/Key Findings

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2009 – Americans appear to be embracing hand hygiene more than in past years. But not all of us are cleaning our hands as often as we should – especially with the threat of the H1N1 flu virus (also known as swine flu).

In the fifth annual Clean Hands Report Card® issued by The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA -, America’s grade for hand hygiene has risen from a "C-minus" in 2008 to a "B-minus."

The Report Card is based on a series of hygiene-related questions asked of 888 Americans during a telephone survey conducted in August 2009 by Echo Research.

Among the good news of SDA’s 2009 survey:

  • 50% say they wash their hands more than 10 times per day (up from 36%).
  • 70% wash up at least 7 times per day (up from 62%).
  • Across the board, more Americans claim to always wash their hands before eating lunch, after coughing or sneezing and after using the bathroom.

Among the bad news of SDA’s 2009 survey:

  • While 62% of women are washing more than 10 times per day, only 37% of men are doing the same.
  • 39% of respondents seldom or never wash their hands after coughing or sneezing (on par with 2008).
  • 46% of respondents wash their hands for 15 seconds or less (on par with 2008). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SDA recommend washing with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds.

"The H1N1 pandemic is real. Cold and flu season is on its way. With common sense hygiene practices, good health is literally in our hands," said Nancy Bock, SDA Vice President of Education.

Survey results recently released by SDA show that nearly two-thirds of adults (65%) expressed concern about H1N1 flu (women more than men: 72%, 57%, respectively). But only one-third of respondents said they changed their overall hygiene habits in response to the growing concerns about H1N1.

"Now is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to cleaning our hands," added Bock.

International Clean Hands Week: September 20-26, 2009

SDA produces the annual Report Card to raise awareness of International Clean Hands Week, September 20-26, which touts handwashing as the easiest path to staying healthy. Clean Hands Week is sponsored by the Clean Hands Coalition (, an alliance of public and private partners working together to create and support coordinated, sustained initiatives to significantly improve health and save lives through clean hands.

Download SDA’s Virtual Cold & Flu Toolkit

SDA has created a virtual, no-cost cold and flu toolkit – ideal for families, educators, health professionals, community leaders and all others interested in promoting good health and hygiene. You can find these materials online at

The SDA Clean Hands Report Card® was based on a telephone survey, which queried 888 American heads of households (446 men and 442 women). The independent consumer research study was completed August 21-24, 2009, on behalf of SDA, by Echo Research. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

A summary of the Report Card statistics will be available at

The 2009 National Spring Cleaning Survey was completed for The Soap and Detergent Association by Echo Research, Inc. Echo questioned 1,002 American adults (501 men and 501 women) via telephone on February 13-16, 2009. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent. A summary of the survey results will be available on SDA’s website at

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The Soap and Detergent Association (, the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Products Industry®, represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market. SDA members include the formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and oleochemical producers. SDA and its members are dedicated to improving health and the quality of life through sustainable cleaning products and practices.