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How Can I Get Coworkers to Wash Their Hands?

Try these tips for a cleaner—and not so germy—office.

Woman's hands being washed in kitchen sinkAdam Gault/Getty Images

Q. The business I work for shares a ladies’ room with another company, and a couple of their female employees don’t wash their hands after using the facilities. Despite a number of gentle reminders (like e-mails emphasizing the importance of proper hygiene that go out to the whole building), two of these women just won’t soap up! Any advice on how to handle the situation?


A. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him... wash his hooves. That doesn’t mean that you have to stop trying. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( have some great resources, including a terrific page called "Handwashing: A Corporate Activity," which is full of concrete and inspiring (read: frightening) statistics about communicable illnesses. Print it out and post it in your shared bathroom.

Another option? Talk to your office manager about installing a waterless hand-washing station (such as an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) to encourage good hygiene even when folks are in a rush.

Beyond these measures, all you can control is your own behavior. If you’re scrupulous about hand-washing, which it sounds as if you are, you will be doing your part to keep yourself healthy and prevent the spread of germs.


Catherine Newman

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