Increasing hand washing compliance with a simple visual cue

Eric W. Ford, Brian T. Boyer, Nir Menachemi, Timothy R. Huerta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We tested the efficacy of a simple, visual cue to increase hand washing with soap and water. Automated towel dispensers in 8 public bathrooms were set to present a towel either with or without activation by users. We set the 2 modes to operate alternately for 10 weeks. Wireless sensors were used to record entry into bathrooms. Towel and soap consumption rates were checked weekly. There were 97 351 hand-washing opportunities across all restrooms. Towel use was 22.6% higher (P = .05) and soap use was 13.3% higher (P = .003) when the dispenser presented the towel without user activation than when activation was required. Results showed that a visual cue can increase hand-washing compliance in public facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1851-1856
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Ford, E. W., Boyer, B. T., Menachemi, N., & Huerta, T. R. (2014). Increasing hand washing compliance with a simple visual cue. American Journal of Public Health, 104(10), 1851-1856.