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2011 Parent and Child Handwashing Survey

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

Because cleaning matters, handwashing in schools has been a priority since 1926 where we focus on behavior, cleaning supplies and education. In September 2011, ACI conducted an online survey of parents and children where we looked at parental influences on children's handwashing practices, handwashing practices in schools and school bathroom ratings.

Here are some preliminary results...

Room for improvement in kids’ handwashing behaviors at school

  • While the overwhelming majority of children say they always wash their hands after they use the toilet at school, fewer do so before eating a snack (49%) or after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing (53%).
  • Over a quarter of kids (26%) admit that they only wash their hands at school when they look dirty.

Time constraints, lack of cleanliness, and shortage of supplies top the list of barriers to children washing their hands at school more often

  • Two-thirds of kids (66%) report that they don’t have the time to wash their hands as much as they should at school.
  • Nearly half of kids (47%) agree that they sometimes don’t use the bathroom at school because it isn’t clean.

Children report lower ratings of their school’s bathroom than their parents do

  • Over a third of kids (37%) would give their school’s bathroom a rating of "fair" or "poor," while only 22% of parents provide the same rating


If you are a parent, visit the ACI Facebook page and tell us about your children's school bathroom.


Make Every Day Global Handwashing Day

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Download the Global Handwashing Day School poster

Download the Global Handwashing Day Office poster

Back to School Clean Hands Webinar Recording

The American Cleaning Institute hosted the Back to School Clean Hands Webinar on October 3, 2011 where Vince Radke from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared why we should wash our hands as well as when and how. Michele Samarya-Timm communicated some creative ideas to engage students, family members and even strangers in improved handwashing behaviors. Kim Knoche explained how her school applied for and received the Healthy Schools, Healthy People, It’s a SNAP national award. Nancy Bock shared many of the free hygiene education materials available from ACI. Click here to view the webinar recording.

ACI's Equation for Success

  1. Give kids "permission" to wash their hands by allotting time and giving frequent reminders both in school and at home. Explain proper handwashing procedures and lead by example.
  2. Pay attention to the quantity of cleaning supplies available. Both teachers and parents can give bathrooms a "pop quiz" by checking restrooms yourself, and talking to someone if they are absent.
  3. Talk to school administrators if toilets, sinks, floors or other surfaces don’t meet your standards for cleanliness.
  4. Implement a handwashing campaign in your school community.
  5. Teachers and parents can go online for free hygiene education materials.