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Female employees most suspicious when it comes to office hygiene


Female employees most suspicious when it comes to office hygiene

Research by Initial reveals lack of trust between men and women when it comes to hygienic practices in the workplace

15th October 2015 –
To coincide with Global Handwashing Day and to promote the importance of hand hygiene amongst office workers, hygiene expert Initial Washroom Hygiene has today unveiled research into how both men and women perceive the opposite sex’s personal hygiene habits. The report, commissioned by Initial and in conjunction with Harris Interactive found that British women are far less trusting of their male counterparts’ personal hygiene habits in the workplace.


Exactly half of UK women (50%) believe the damning judgement that their male colleagues never wash their hands in the office. On the flipside, British men were more generous in their opinion towards women, with a whopping 96% trusting that their female colleagues always washed their hands. Based on research released earlier this year, women are right to be more suspicious of men, after anonymous monitoring of 100,000 people across Europe by Initial Washroom Hygiene found that, in fact, only 38% of men and 60% of women wash their hands after going to the toilet.[1] This significantly increases the risk of cross-contamination and illness in the workplace.


Emma Kenny, a psychologist with more than 20 years’ practicing experience, comments: “The research demonstrates the strong stereotypical belief of women being the more hygienic gender. Men, more often than not experience women as their primary care givers. With mothers as their initial role models it is likely that men form opinions that are more positive towards women, because of their attitude towards and experiences of their mother’s hygiene standards. Women conversely feel that men have questionable hygiene attitudes and again it's likely these are formed during childhood and reinforced through stereotypical assumptions and judgements about boys and men being less concerned about their appearance and general hygiene.”

The potential risk of spreading germs via the traditional handshake is high, especially as one in four office workers admit they don't wash their hands after using the washroom.[2] Considering 80% of diseases are transmissible through touch[3], and 60% of employee illness is believed to be contracted from dirty office equipment, it’s essential that office workers wash their hands correctly to reduce the risk of illness both for themselves and for their co-workers.[4]


Dr Peter Barratt, Initial Washroom Hygiene, commented, “What these findings particularly highlight is that we all need to be more responsible when it comes to hand hygiene. Washing your hands thoroughly for 20-30 seconds remains the simplest and most effective way to reduce the spread of infection, and employers need to take the lead to ensure all their employees wash their hands thoroughly after every washroom visit, whether they are male or female. Employers should also encourage their workers to take time to fully recover from an illness as this will help stop its transmission within the office.  


“By providing the best facilities available, such as good quality soap from dispensers, sanitising gels and hand drying equipment, and encouraging good and consistent hand washing behaviour it shouldn’t be necessary to change the way co-workers greet each other, and employers can ensure that their staff retain full confidence in each other’s hygiene, whilst reducing the risk of transmitting infections.”


For more information, or to download the report, visit:


- ENDS –



Notes to Editors


Primary research, conducted by research agency Harris Interactive, was based on responses from 5,500 respondents in total (1,100 per country) across several demographic groups from the following countries Australia, UK, Germany, France and Singapore


Demographic groups of respondents interviewed:

  • Adult with baby
  • Adult with a child aged 4-11 years old
  • Adult with a child aged 12-14 years old
  • Adolescents aged 15-19 years old
  • Early adulthood (aged 20-35 years old)
  • Midlife (aged 36-60 years old/ Singapore under 50 years old)
  • Mature (aged 61 years old and over/ Singapore under 51 years old and over)
  • Research conducted from 8th to 14thof April 2015


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



Media Enquiries: Media

For more information and media enquiries please contact Oliver Edwards/Nikhol Hui: 020 7592 1200 /



[2] Research conducted by Rentokil Initial and CEBR,2013