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‘Hygiene Angels’ help fight against the spread of infection with hand washing best practice


24th July 2014 – Hygiene expert, Initial Washroom Hygiene, is today highlighting the


 importance of effective hand washing at London’s first pop-up swabbing station. A team of experts, led by Dr Peter Barratt, will swab people’s hands and personal items to reveal the levels of bacteria present and provide advice on effective hand washing. The public will also have the opportunity to set a new World Record, with Initial Washroom Hygiene experts attempting to swab the most numbers of hands and personal items during the course of an hour (1pm-2pm). 

The pop-up event at One New Change, near St. Paul’s, will also see the London Youth Gospel Choir perform for the first time as ‘Hygiene Angels’, singing 30 second sections from a range of popular songs to highlight the recommended time for proper hand washing. Research of 2,000 UK adults, carried out by Initial Washroom Hygiene, reveals that 30 per cent believe they only need to wash their hands for 15 seconds or less. Almost a quarter, (24 per cent), of the people surveyed admitted they either rarely or never wash their hands after blowing their nose and 27 per cent don’t after travelling on public transport. Previous research undertaken by Initial Washroom Hygiene with CEBR shows this is a consistent trend, with over a quarter (27 per cent) of UK employees admitting to not washing their hands every time they visit the washroom.

It is estimated that drug-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA are responsible for 5,000 deaths a year in the UK and 25,000 deaths a year in Europe1. The main weapon against MRSA is improved hygiene, which cuts the opportunity for infection to spread. More common illnesses such as the Norovirus, which has affected staff at this year’s Commonwealth Games, can be reduced through frequent and proper hand washing with soap and water. 

Dr Peter Barratt, Initial Washroom Hygiene, commented, “The Government and health organisations around the world have highlighted the risk of antibiotic resistant infections steadily increasing over the years. Our research shows a significant number of people do not wash their hands very often or properly, despite it being the simplest and cheapest way to reduce the spread of infection. Personal items, such as phones, handbags and computers come into regular contact with our hands, creating a high risk of cross-contamination and spreading germs from one surface to another. 

“We all need to take more responsibility to improve our hand hygiene. Employers need to ensure the right facilities are available as well as providing plenty of soap, sanitising gels and hand drying equipment.”

The UN says washing hands is the most cost-effective intervention for the worldwide control of disease2. It estimates hand washing could save more than one million lives a year from diarrhoeal diseases and prevent respiratory infections, one of the biggest causes of child mortality in developing countries.

Experts from Initial Washroom Hygiene will be available during the event, to answer any questions around hygiene in the workplace and discuss the implications of not washing hands properly. They will offer quick, easy tips that everyone can follow to ensure they stay as hygienic as possible.

Hygiene fast facts

  • There can be more than 1000 resident bacteria per cm2 on your hand
  • By encouraging hand washing, illness can be reduced by 30 – 50%
  • Under optimal conditions, bacteria can grow extremely rapidly and can double every 20 minutes
  • Damp hands spread 1000 times more bacteria than dry hands
  • Contaminated hands regularly transfer viruses to many different surfaces or objects
  • Bacteria can stay alive on hands for up to three hours
  • Many bacteria grow best at a temperature of 37oc – our body temperature
  • The typical office worker’s hands come into contact with 10 million bacteria per day
  • Face or hand cream tubes in handbags can have more surface bacteria than the average toilet seat
  • Handles of handbags are home to more bacteria than the average toilet seat


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General Public:

All members of the public are welcome to attend the event will run from 11am-3pm


For more information and media enquiries please contact Catherine Ditcham/Nikhol Hui: 020 7592 1200 /

Images of the event will be available to media soon after opening time, while interviews with Initial Washroom spokespeople can be requested either beforehand or on the day.


About Initial Hygiene

Initial Hygiene is a global leader in hygiene services operating in over 45 countries across the world including the major economies of Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Africa.  It provides innovative and environmentally responsible washroom services solutions to large and small organisations across a range of business sectors including public administrations and schools, food and drink manufacturing, hospitality and leisure, medical and paramedical, construction, retail, services and transportation.

The range of Initial Hygiene’s services and supplies includes:

  • Hand washing and drying products and services
  • Feminine hygiene disposal units and services
  • Products for washroom, urinal and toilet hygiene and cleaning