Tork Study Reveals Need for Improved Public Restroom Hygiene

March 29, 2024

New research recently released by hygiene product company Tork, an Essity brand, shines light on the difficulties Americans have in staying hygienic while using public restrooms in the United States.

According to data gathered by Tork:

  • Almost 1 in 3 Americans faced barriers to washing their hands in public restrooms.
  • Around 1 in 5 experienced difficulties using soap or hand towel dispensers due to an injury, health condition, physical capability, or as a parent with a child.
  • 1 in 7 cited loud noises as a source of difficulty, either personally or when assisting a child when using public restrooms.
  • More than 1 in 3 viewed lack of cleanliness as a barrier to using workplace or public restrooms.

The research also found that more than 60% of individuals surveyed have a lesser opinion of businesses or venues that provide hand hygiene facilities that are challenging to use. Almost one-third of guests at high-traffic venues (such as sport stadiums) said they limit how much they eat or drink, in order to avoid going to the restrooms.

To heighten awareness of these issues, Tork has created a “paper towel plea” campaign, through which the company is distributing paper towels printed with hand-written notes from individuals who face restroom barriers related to age, neurodiversity, skin sensitivities, and hygiene-related concerns.

“We’re spotlighting these hand hygiene barriers because they can lead to restroom avoidance and can go largely unobserved,” said Amie Kromis, Essity North America DEI director. “Our ultimate ambition is to explore —and solve for—the ways that the restroom experience could be improved for everyone. Not only is this important for the individual’s ability to use the restroom and wash their hands, but a negative experience in the restroom can impact a businesses’ revenue, as well.”

On March 27, Tork also announced its goal to advance hygiene inclusivity in the restroom at Reuters Events’ Responsible Business USA 2024, where the brand joined sustainability, legal, communications, and finance leaders to explore how organizations can improve the environmental and societal sustainability of their operations and solutions.

“Many people around the world experience barriers, discomfort, or anxiety when they try to properly wash and dry their hands in a public or workplace restroom,” said Ron Clemmer, Global Handwashing Partnership secretariat director. “We know that hand washing is critical for reducing the spread of disease and having the integrity of good hygiene, but it isn’t easily accessible for everyone. We applaud Tork for leading the charge on this important initiative and continuing to push for attention and improvement of the accessibility of hand washing in public and workplace restrooms. Through these efforts, they are paving the way to make it easier for everyone to be able to wash their hands properly in public and workplace settings.”

To learn more about Tork’s paper towel plea campaign, click here.

About Essity
Essity is a global hygiene and health company that develops, produces, and sells personal care, consumer tissue, and professional hygiene products and solutions. For more information visit