NEW YORK — The average American eats food off the floor about four times per month. That’s according to a new poll of 2,000 Americans which reveals that 44 percent follow the so-called “five second rule.” This common rule of thumb states that if you drop food on the floor, you have five seconds to pick it up and eat it without worrying about cleanliness.
Depending on the scenario, 52 percent agree that there are some places they would extend the rule to 10 seconds. Those places include their own home (63%), a restaurant (55%), and a hospital or medical facility (55%).
However, everyone has their limits. Almost two-thirds (63%) have places they would never consider eating food off the floor, including bathrooms (60%), public streets or sidewalks (59%), and airports (57%).
The pandemic is turning people into germaphobes
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ecolab, the survey sought to uncover how respondents’ standards of cleanliness have changed over the last few years. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) are concerned about cleanliness when attending large events now, compared to 58 percent who were concerned prior to the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, half of respondents have raised their standards for cleanliness. Another 27 percent say their standards have remained the same. Moreover, 32 percent believe their standards for cleanliness will increase over the next year.
When asked which places respondents believe are the cleanest, their own home ranked at the top of the list (44%). Respondents were even more likely to believe a family member’s home is cleaner than a Michelin star restaurant (42% vs 34%). Even though some people believe restaurants are pretty clean, there are still several surfaces they avoid touching. To reduce the spread of germs, Americans refuse to touch restrooms (46%), entry doors (43%), and bar counters (42%).
Where’s the sanitizer?
The survey also found that about two-thirds (65%) agree that outdoor events are cleaner than indoor ones. About two in five (37%) typically opt for a mix of both hand sanitizer and soap and water when cleaning their hands, but 25 percent prefer hand washing over sanitizing.
Three in five are likely to use a hand sanitizing station if it is set up around a store, restaurant, or event. Sixty-three percent seek out specific events and locations that have obvious cleaning programs, like hand sanitizer stations and cleaning logs.
In fact, 70 percent use cleanliness as a gauge for whether or not they would return somewhere. When it comes to the importance of cleaning and cleanliness, the average respondent claims they realized this around the age of 27. About one in five (18%) learned this before the age of 18, but 22 percent admit it wasn’t until after age 35 that they started keeping track of public hygiene.