This month, we released our third Essentials Initiative Report, which highlights perspectives from around the world on topics that influence well-being. This year, the global survey also examined changes in attitudes and behaviors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Essity study found that after COVID-19 reached the U.S., 54% of women and 49% of men state that they now wash their hands more often during the day than before the pandemic. Additionally, 51% of women and 41% of men now consider hand hygiene a larger part of their overall health routine than they did before the pandemic. 

“Women are role models when it comes to hand hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Amy Bellcourt, Vice President of Communications for Essity in North America. “We hope this data helps inspire both men and women to be vigilant when it comes to handwashing, since clean hands are one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.”

When it comes to hand hygiene, women also surpass men in how often they wash their hands after blowing their nose and sneezing, using the toilet, and touching surfaces outside of the home, However, men are more diligent about handwashing after shaking hands and using public transportation.

Differing Views on Hand Sanitizer Use

Women and men also differ on their view of hand sanitizers, with 19% of men believing that hand sanitizers are more effective for handwashing than soap, compared to 15% of women. There is also a higher proportion of men that do not wash their hands at all, instead relying solely on hand sanitizers to clean their hands. 

While hand sanitizers do help kill germs, they work best when used as complement in between handwashing if hands are not visibly dirty, or when soap and water are not available. Handwashing with soap and water, followed by drying thoroughly with a clean paper hand towel, is the most effective method of hand hygiene. 

To read the full survey, please visit: