Handwashing Essentials are Paramount during the Pandemic

15 October 2020

By: Fabio Vitali, Vice President of Marketing, Sofidel


Each year, the world celebrates Global Handwashing Day on October 15. The event serves as a reminder for everyone to do their part to reduce the spread of pathogens through the simple act of handwashing. The BC Centre for Disease Control reports that 80% of common infections are spread by hands.

This year, proper hand hygiene is more important than ever, as the novel coronavirus pandemic presents additional risks on top of the annual cold and flu season. Handwashing coupled with hand drying using paper towels (the preferred method for most) is an easy two-step process that everyone should follow.

Handwashing 101

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing can reduce the occurrence of respiratory illnesses by up to 21%. Successful handwashing requires soap, water and at least 20 seconds of scrubbing to thoroughly loosen and remove lingering germs on palms, on the tops of hands, between fingers and underneath fingernails. To encourage handwashing, facilities must always keep soap stocked in restrooms, kitchens and next to any other sinks, such as those in classrooms and patient rooms. Custodial teams should also check that faucets, whether automated or manual, are working and providing a steady flow of water.

Where it’s not feasible to provide soap, such as at registration desks or near elevators, hand sanitizer dispensers can encourage hand hygiene and help reduce the spread of germs from hands onto surfaces and vice versa.

It’s well-known that many people do not wash their hands after using a public restroom, which can encourage germs to spread more easily throughout indoor environments. So how can your business encourage handwashing? According to the 2017 Healthy Handwashing Survey, almost 40% of Americans admit they’re more likely to wash their hands after seeing a sign that requires employees to wash hands before returning to work. A simple solution like wall posters that note handwashing requirements and showcase how best to wash hands can make a real difference.

Don’t Forget Hand Drying

To maximize the benefits of handwashing, it’s important for your facility’s occupants and visitors to adequately dry hands following this process. According to a 2017 survey, 69% of Americans prefer to use paper towels over air dryers when drying their hands in public restrooms. Thorough hand drying is key because dry hands are less likely to attract and spread germs. The survey also found that:

  • 70% report that paper towels dry hands better
  • 69% like that paper towels dry hands faster
  • 52% prefer that they can open the restroom door with a paper towel
  • Nearly 1 in 4 (24%) say air dryers blow bacteria on hands and in the air


With heightened concerns about the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in indoor environments, it’s possible that an even larger percentage of people are wary of using air dryers today.

Providing soft, absorbent paper towels will appease your guests and allow them to comfortably and thoroughly dry their hands. Consider automated paper towel dispensers to reduce the number of touchpoints in restrooms. If your restroom uses doors for entry rather than a corridor, instruct custodial workers to check the stock of paper towels more often since people may be using them to open doors. Alternatively, you can install a dispenser near the exit that contains a smaller door tissue to eliminate direct contact between hands and door handles. 

Offering a Helping Hand with New Solutions

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Sofidel harnessed its innovative spirit to bring new and much-needed solutions to the market. We have focused on the development of our Defend Tech line of paper towels that incorporate orange essential oil. This oil not only soothes skin, but has properties that allow it to kill bacteria captured on the paper to further reduce the spread of germs.

A Round of Applause for Hand Hygiene

Proper hand hygiene can be the difference between a mild cold and flu season and a major outbreak. This year, businesses also have to worry about employees and visitors potentially transmitting SARS-CoV-2 as the pandemic continues to record new cases. With carefully selected hand hygiene essentials in place and a culture that promotes handwashing and hand drying, organizations give their customers and employees greater peace of mind about health and safety during this challenging time.