What do you do in a public bathroom?

I don’t plan on resurrecting the age-old debate over how to install the toilet paper roll, but I thought you might find this research interesting. The Swedish firm, SCA, makers of hygiene and forest products (they sell Tork brand dispensers, towels, soap, napkins and wipers for use in public bathrooms in North America) has released results of its 2014 Hygiene Matters Consumer Survey. They surveyed more than 13,000 people in 13 countries worldwide, a thousand of them here in the U.S.

Here’s what Americans say they’re doing in public bathrooms:


Talking on the phone-23%

For personal sanctuary- 23%(women), 17%(men)

Get away from coworkers-21%(men), 18%(women)

Take a break to cry-14%(women), 6%(men)

Eat-8%(men and women) Not in a million years!

Exercise-7%(men and women)

Smoke-5%(men and women)

Sleep-5% (men and women)

Seriously, that’s what respondents said they do in there. They also reported these things:

11% believe poor hygiene in the workplace is the greatest risk to their health.

42% say they never wash their hands at work (does that give you some pause about shaking hands or letting someone hand you a slice of birthday cake?)

10% only sometimes wash their hands after using the toilet, 1% say they never do.

Interestingly, more than 50% of respondents in Brazil, Mexico, China and South Africa say they are “always” or “often” concerned that poor hygiene in public bathrooms will make them sick. In the U.S., only 18% worry about that. Based on some of the public bathrooms I’ve been in lately, maybe we need to be a little more concerned.


One comment

  1. Tom Kelley · November 13, 2014

    I admit to being guilty of a few of these bathroom activities (especially anything to do with the phone, I find that I’m confronted with my phone addiction whenever I visit a public restroom). I will also say that the only bathrooms in which I do NOT wash my hands are the ones that are so filthy it would actually be less sanitary to use the sink…I would say that’s 10% of the bathrooms in NYC.


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