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Re-thinking Hygiene: a closer look at the washroom and why paper towels are now more important than ever

COVID-19 is shaping new attitudes and behaviours amongst consumers. The pandemic has shifted our thought process and created an incredibly increased focus on hygiene. Now, we are all more aware than ever of our own hygiene and the hygiene practices of those around us, from more frequent washing of hands and the surfaces we touch, to the air that we breathe. 

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Hygiene has always been a prominent factor for those running a business in hospitality, however, recent events have caused its importance to skyrocket.  As the hub for hygiene for consumers in establishments like restaurants, bars, and pubs, the washroom is expected to play an integral role in shaping the future reputation of your business.

A recent study, conducted by the global professional hygiene brand Tork, examined the impact of COVID-19 on people’s attitudes to hygiene, with a focus on public washrooms. It found that nearly 8 in 10 people surveyed in the UK feel more unsafe going into establishments with unhygienic washrooms today than before the pandemic. This demonstrates that the hygiene standards of washrooms are set to become a deciding factor in whether customers return to an establishment, or even visit in the first place.

According to the study conducted by Tork, 59% of people surveyed in the UK wish more establishments offered paper hand towels as an alternative to air dryers, while 29% now have an increased preference for paper hand towels compared to before the pandemic. The most common reasons for this change are a perception that paper hand towels are more hygienic for the user (77%), dry hands more quickly (42%) and spread less bacteria in the air (45%).

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more customers are likely to hold hospitality establishments to the high standards that apply in hygiene-critical areas, and the cost of not addressing their concerns could impact businesses. Eighty-six percent86% of people surveyed in the UK say they expect public washrooms to provide a safer hygiene environment than before, while nearly 40% say they are less likely to visit places that do not offer paper hand towels as a hand drying alternative. What’s more, 33% now feel unsafe entering a washroom equipped with air dryers.

With the hospitality experience adapting to a new normal, and the predicted reduction of people walking into a restaurants, pubs, and bars without booking in advance, consumers are faced with needing more time to plan and consider deciding factors before visiting. The Tork study suggests that providing solutions that make people feel safe, must be a top priority for facilities to ensure they’re prepared and that their customers feel safe and protected.

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With over 50 years of expertise in the hygiene industry, Tork has a wealth of knowledge and free resources, beyond hand drying, available to help hospitality businesses navigate through this uncertain time.

About the survey

The survey was conducted by United Minds in cooperation with CINT using web-panels. Data was collected between April 8-13, 2020 in the UK market with a total of 1004 respondents.  

For more information on how to prepare your business please visit Tork’s website at