A  Royal Pharmaceutical Society survey shows that 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough to clean them of the bacteria which can cause infections such as diarrhoea, upset stomachs, whilst at home and certainly not on holiday when we can come across bacteria and viruses not common in the UK which our bodies may have limited resistance to.

Effective handwashing is important especially whilst travelling. Even in the UK around 30% of diarrhoea and 16% of respiratory infections can be prevented through handwashing.

The handwashing habits of those surveyed showed:

2 in 3 people (65%) don’t always wash their hands before eating

1 in 2 people (50%) don’t always wash their hands after handling animals, such as pets

1 in 3 people (32%) don’t always wash their hands before preparing food

1 in 5 people (21%) don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet

The recommended time to spend washing your hands is 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice. Some people use hand gels on a regular basis, but nothing is as effective as washing hands properly with soap and hot water.

Even when we remain unaffected by the bugs we carry, if we don’t wash our hands we can transmit infections which then become a real problem for those who are more vulnerable, such as children and the elderly, who may then need to be prescribed antibiotics.

We can never know what we are carrying or what impact it may have on those around us, which is why good handwashing is so important.

Find out more about good handwashing, visit


or watch the NHS Choices video on


Remember ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice!