People feel unsafe using public washrooms with air dryers, a new study finds


COVID-19 is shaping new attitudes and behaviors among people. Not least is a growing awareness of health risks associated with hygiene in public spaces.


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Washroom Hygiene
February 6, 2021
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People feel unsafe using public washrooms with air dryers, a new study finds

According to a new international study from Tork®, an Essity brand, nearly seven out of 10 people surveyed in four European markets feel more unsafe going to facilities with unhygienic public washrooms today than before the pandemic. And 43% of these respondents say they feel unsafe entering a washroom equipped with air dryers.

Expectations about 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, 80% believe it is critically important to public safety to maintain a high hygiene standard in public washrooms.

This increased concern for hygiene in public washrooms has driven a change in preference for hand drying solutions. According to the study, 75% of people surveyed in these four countries wish more facilities offered paper hand towels as an alternative to air dryers. The study also found that 37% of people now have an increased preference for paper hand towels versus before the pandemic. The most common reasons selected by these European respondents for this change in preferences are a perception that paper hand towels are more hygienic to the user (80%), dry hands more quickly (42%) and spread less bacteria in the air (39%).

As the preference of washroom visitors for paper hand towels increases, the cost of not offering paper hand towels can be high for facilities. Of those survey respondents in these four countries, 50% say they are less likely to visit places that do not offer paper hand towels as a hand drying alternative, and 43% say they feel unsafe entering a washroom 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’s not enough anymore. A larger 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.

“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.

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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 four European markets: Germany, France, Spain and Sweden with a total of 4035 respondents.


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