Most Americans still frequently washing their hands, but hand hygiene is less top of mind than when COVID-19 began

An Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the American Cleaning Institute finds that, over the next 6 months, Americans are likely to retain many pandemic-related behaviors like hand washing and masking

Topline Findings Washington, DC, October 25, 2021 — A vast majority of Americans are still practicing heightened levels of hand hygiene, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the American Cleaning Institute. Most Americans also report using more hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant wipes now, than before the pandemic. However, compared to the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, fewer Americans report washing their hands more frequently or washing for at least 20 seconds.


Detailed Findings

1. Most Americans are still washing their hands and using hand sanitizer more frequently now than they did prior to COVID-19. Since the very beginning of the pandemic, however, the number of Americans reporting heightened hand hygiene practices has fallen.

• Almost three out of five of Americans reported that they are washing their hands (59%) or using hand sanitizer (56%) more frequently.

• The percentage of Americans reporting more frequent handwashing during the pandemic fell from 78% in March 2020 to 59% in September 2021. Fewer now also say they are more mindful about washing their hands for 20 seconds, compared to last March.

• Despite this, almost nine in 10 Americans still report some type of change in their handwashing habits since the pandemic started.

Hand Washing

2. A vast majority of Americans say they are likely to continue to practice certain pandemic-related behaviors over the next six months.

• More than nine in ten Americans (93%) say they are likely to continue washing their hands frequently, including 62% who say they are “very likely,” making this pandemic behavior the most likely to continue over the next six months.

• Three in four Americans say they are likely to continue masking over the next six months.

• Though a vast majority report plans to wear a mask, this falls lower on the list compared to other pandemic-related behaviors in the survey.

• Midwestern Americans are significantly less likely than Americans from other regions to report plans to continue wearing a mask over the next six months: West (81%), South (78%), Northeast (77%), and Midwest (65%). 

Hand Hygiene

3. Among American parents, nearly four in five say that their children help with chores. Among those with anyone else living in the household, whether it’s a child or partner, seven in ten have experienced disputes over cleaning responsibilities.

• Children are most likely to help clean their rooms, followed by washing dishes, doing laundry, and mopping/vacuuming.

• Seven out of ten Americans living with at least one other person have experienced disputes over cleaning responsibilities, most of which are over messy spaces (30%).

• Over a third of those living with at least one other person report increased cleaning responsibilities compared to only 3% who report decreased responsibilities.

Children Chores


About the Study

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted September 07-08, 2021, on behalf of the American Cleaning Institute. For the survey, a sample of 1,004 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2018 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,004, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval = +/-5.0 percentage points for all respondents).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Deeney

Senior Vice President, US Public Affairs

[email protected]

Ashley Belanger

Contractor, US Public Affairs

[email protected]

Mallory Newall

Vice President, US Public Affairs

[email protected]

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