People Feel Unsafe Using Public Restrooms with Air Dryers, New Study Finds

Jun 25, 2020 4:15 PM ET
Summary: 

COVID-19 is shaping new attitudes and behaviors among people, especially a growing awareness of health risks associated with hygiene in public spaces. According to a new international study from Tork®, an Essity brand, nearly eight out of ten people surveyed in North America feel more unsafe going to facilities with unhygienic public restrooms today than before the pandemic - and 33% of these respondents say they feel unsafe entering a restroom equipped with air dryers.

Press Release

PHILADELPHIA, June 25, 2020 /3BL Media/ - Expectations of public spaces and demands for safe hygiene solutions are higher than ever before. According to the study, which examined the impact of COVID-19 on people’s attitudes regarding public hygiene, 86% believe it is critically important to public safety to maintain a high hygiene standard in public restrooms.
 
This increased concern for hygiene in public restrooms has driven a change in preference for hand drying solutions. According to the study, 70% of people in North America wish more facilities offered paper hand towels as an alternative to air dryers. The study also found that 33% of people now have an increased preference for paper hand towels versus before the pandemic. The most common reasons selected by North American survey respondents for this change in preferences are a perception that paper hand towels are more hygienic to the user (71%), dry hands more quickly (53%) and spread less bacteria in the air (43%).
 
As the preference of restroom visitors for paper hand towels increases, the cost of not offering paper hand towels can be high for facilities. More than 40% of North American survey respondents say they are less likely to visit places that do not offer paper hand towels as a hand drying alternative, and 33% say they feel unsafe entering a restroom equipped with air dryers.
 
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that all businesses need to adapt to a new hygiene standard. While some facilities might have chosen air dryers before, based on the perceived ease of use, that is not enough anymore. A significant portion of the population feels less safe now using air dryers. We have seen an increase in requests from facility managers who want to change from air dryers to paper hand towels," says Alberto Cajiga, VP Marketing, Essity Professional Hygiene.
 
For hygiene-critical areas, such as food processing plants and hospitals, paper hand towels have long been the only acceptable hand drying solution.* And for good reason. Unlike paper hand towels, jet air dryers produce more airborne droplets,** which increases the risk of bacteria spread in the air. The friction from drying hands with paper towels also helps to remove more bacteria than other drying options.***
 
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more visitors are likely to hold public restrooms to the same standards that apply in those hygiene-critical areas. In fact, 86% of North American survey respondents say they expect public restrooms will provide a safer hygiene environment now than before the COVID-19 crisis.
 
“The study suggests that providing solutions that make people feel safe when visiting public spaces must be a top priority for facility managers that want to re-attract guests. The cost of not addressing their concerns is simply too high," says Cajiga.
 
For more information about making the safer choice and switching to Tork paper hand towels, visit www.torkusa.com/saferchoice.
 
*Source: Huang, C Mayo Clinic, 2011 
**Source: Margas E. et al, J Applied Microbiol, 2013 
***Source: Todd, J Food Prot, 2010

 
About the survey
The survey was conducted by United Minds in cooperation with CINT using web-panels. Data was collected between April 8-13, 2020 in the US market with a total of 1012 respondents.

For more information, please contact:
Rachel Sharpe, Weber Shandwick, rsharpe@webershandwick.com
 
About Tork 

The Tork brand offers professional hygiene products and services to customers worldwide ranging from restaurants and healthcare facilities to offices, schools and industries. Our products include dispensers, paper towels, toilet tissue, soap, napkins, wipers, but also software solutions for data-driven cleaning. Through expertise in hygiene, functional design and sustainability, Tork has become a market leader that supports customers to think ahead so they’re always ready for business. Tork is a global brand of Essity, and a committed partner to customers in over 110 countries. To keep up with the latest Tork news and innovations, please visit www.torkusa.com.

About Essity
 
Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company. We are dedicated to improving well-being through our products and services. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and other strong brands, such as JOBST, Leukoplast, Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo, Vinda and Zewa. Essity has about 46,000 employees. Net sales in 2019 amounted to approximately $13.5 billion. The company’s headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden, and Essity is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Essity breaks barriers to well-being and contributes to a healthy, sustainable and circular society. More information at www.essity.com