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Restroom Encounters of the Worst Kind: Americans don't like touching things in public restrooms

Hated: empty or jammed toilet paper dispensers; clogged or unflushed toilets; stall doors that don't latch; bad smells


February 24, 2017

According to the Healthy Hand Washing Survey by Bradley Corp., both men and women work hard to avoid touching restroom surfaces.

Public restrooms are everywhere but they're not all created equal.

In fact, the annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey, conducted by restroom fixture manufacturer Bradley Corporation, has uncovered a number of unfortunate problems that frustrate users.

Nearly 70% of Americans say they've had a particularly unpleasant experience in a restroom due to the condition of the facility. The most aggravating issues cited include: empty or jammed toilet paper dispensers; clogged or unflushed toilets; stall doors that don't latch; bad smells; and an overall appearance that's old, dirty or unkempt.

But, bad encounters don't stop there. Respondents also shared embarrassing restroom incidents. Someone opening the stall door while they're using it; discovering the toilet paper dispenser was empty; walking into the wrong gender's restroom; and clogging the toilet while using it were the top four awkward situations.

Moreover, Americans don't like touching things in public restrooms. In fact, to avoid coming in contact with surfaces, they utilize all sorts of techniques. The survey found 47% rely on their foot to operate the toilet flusher. 45% use a paper towel to grasp the door handle and 38% hover over the toilet seat.

When asked what improvements they'd like to see, it's not surprising that cleanliness topped the list. After that, Americans want touchless fixtures and better stocking of supplies, such as toilet paper, soap and paper towels.

"Most everyone has had a bad restroom experience and, unfortunately, it's usually something you don't forget," says Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing and strategic development at Bradley Corp. "The good news is that manufacturers, like Bradley, do listen to consumers' concerns and work to address them by creating new and innovative products."

The survey also found that an unclean restroom can negatively impact a business. 60% of adults age 55 and older say they're unlikely to return if a business has an unclean or unpleasant restroom. Those who are younger (age 18-34) are more likely to express their frustration by telling a friend or posting a comment on social media.

On the other hand, businesses can reap the benefits of having nice restrooms – particularly with millennials. 77% of younger respondents say they've selected a specific business because it has cleaner, more well-maintained facilities. It also matters to older adults as nearly 60% have consciously decided to visit a location that has better restrooms.

The Healthy Hand Washing Survey from Bradley Corp. reveals the top two frustrations with public restrooms - toilet paper dispensers that are empty or jammed and toilets that are clogged or not flushed.

Bradley Corp., a leading manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, restroom partitions, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers, has executed the Healthy Hand Washing Survey for the past eight years.

The annual survey queried 1,042 American adults online Dec. 12-15, 2016 about their hand washing habits in public restrooms and concerns about germs, colds and the flu. Participants were from around the country, were 18 years and older, and were fairly evenly split between men and women (49 and 51 percent).

For 95 years, Bradley Corporation has designed and manufactured commercial washroom and emergency safety products, and today is the industry's leading source for commercial plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, restroom partitions, solid plastic lockers, and emergency safety fixtures and industrial grade electric tankless heaters. Headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Bradley serves the commercial, industrial, health care, retail, and education markets worldwide. For more information, contact Bradley at 1-800-BRADLEY or


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