How often should you shower? Do you need to wash your hair every time? What about your face, or your hands – or even your feet?
You might think the answers to these questions are a universal truth, but you’d be surprised how much variation there is in our attitudes to cleanliness. For example: did you know that 17% of Brits (that’s around 11.5 million people) admit to only sometimes washing their hands after using the bathroom? Or that nearly a quarter (23%) only brush their teeth once per day?
Whether you find comfort in shared habits or cringe at the unexpected revelations, our latest survey shines a light on all of the UK’s most common (and most disgusting) hygiene habits.
No matter which side of the shower curtain you fall on when it comes to how often you should be washing your body, you’re not alone. We found that less than half (48%) of Brits shower every day, with one in six (15%) saying they shower every other day and one in 10 (10%) opting for every three days.
4% – which is equal to 2.7 million people – also admitted to only hopping in the shower for a scrub down once per week. Let’s hope it wasn’t a very sweaty week!
We also found that men (10%) are slightly more likely than women (8%) to shower or bathe multiple times per day, with women more likely to stick to just one daily shower.
Your face is the first thing most people notice about you, so it’s pretty important to keep it looking fresh and clean. Unfortunately, a small, but significant, 5% of people said they only bother to wash their face every other day, and just under a third (31%) admitted to only sometimes using face wash when they do.
Plain old water is better than nothing, but it doesn’t exactly count as ‘washing’ in our books – sorry folks.
Women do a much better job overall at cleansing their faces, with almost half (43%) of women saying they wash their face multiple times per day compared to 35% of men.
Our condolences go out to anyone travelling on public transport with this one, as 5% of people we surveyed (equal to around 3.4 million Brits) said that they never put on deodorant. Fortunately, almost half (49%) said they put it on every day, and 29% even apply it multiple times daily.
The ladies are in the lead again here, with 34% saying they reach for deodorant multiple times throughout the day to stay fresh while only 23% of men do the same.
In fact, we found that men are twice as likely to only apply deodorant twice per week – despite the fact that they tend to produce more sweat.
Us Brits are mostly a clean bunch when it comes to our hair, washing it an average of 4.4 times per week. In fact, survey respondents most commonly said they wash their hair once a day (33%), followed by every two days (20%) and every three days (17%).
Only 3.8% said they wash their hair just once a week, and a reassuringly tiny 0.8% admitted they opt for once a month.
However, people in Belfast have the most casual approach in the country to haircare, with 38% saying they only wash their locks every three days.
The NHS (and most other healthcare services) recommend brushing your teeth twice a day to keep them squeaky clean and in good condition. Fortunately, the majority of Brits have taken this advice to heart with 59% saying they brush their pearly whites multiple times a day.
We’re not all so good at following the rules though. Nearly one in four people choose to ignore this advice and admitted to only brushing their teeth once a day, and 4% only do it every other day. Even worse, 3% of people – equal to 1.9 million Brits – never brush their teeth at all.
And while over two-thirds (69%) of women are brushing their teeth at least twice daily, as recommended, men unfortunately aren’t doing such a great job at looking after theirs. Only half (50%) say they reach for their toothbrush more than once a day, meaning the other half are walking around with some potentially very bad breath.
Although most of us are doing a good job at brushing regularly, just under a third (31%) of Brits said they never floss – despite being recommended to do so at least once a day to improve gum health.
Belfast residents are particularly guilty of this, with 45% saying they never floss. On the flipside, people in Brighton have the healthiest gums in the country as 44% say they follow the rules and floss once a day.
When it comes to paying the dentist a visit, people most commonly go for a check-up less than once every 6 months (38%), even though the majority of dentists recommend popping in twice a year. 11% (equal to 7.4 million Brits) also said they never go for a check-up, and 22% said they never get their teeth cleaned by a hygienist either.
Despite their good flossing habits, people living in Brighton seem to be the most blasé about the state of their teeth, with nearly one in five (19%) admitting they never go for a dental check-up.
With the fear of going to the dentist seemingly prominent in the UK, these stats probably aren’t too shocking!
The general consensus when it comes to washing dirty clothes and underwear is that every few days is best, with most Brits doing laundry 3.4 times per week on average.
22% draw it out a little longer and wash their clothes once a week, while 19% go the extra mile to stay squeaky clean and put on a wash every day. Let’s just hope they don’t get into the realm of re-wearing underwear to tide them over to the next wash cycle!
Over a third (36%) of Brits also change to clean bedding once per week, which is what most experts recommend. However, we’re slightly shocked by the one in 10 (6.7 million!) people who said they only switch to fresh sheets once a month – meaning they’re letting all their sweat and dead skin cells build up in their bedding for around four weeks before throwing it in the wash. Gross.
Men in particular aren’t doing such a stand-up job with their laundry, with more than one in 10 (12%) guys owning up to only changing their sheets once per month. We hope they were a little ashamed to admit it, at least.
Although COVID-19 did a pretty good job of scaring us all into washing our hands on a regular basis, it seems some of us have let our standards slip a little since the end of the pandemic.
Our survey revealed some alarmingly lax hand-washing habits, including:
- Over one in six people (17%) admitted to only sometimes washing their hands after using the toilet
- Nearly a third (32%) only sometimes wash them before eating
- 38% only occasionally wash them after sneezing
- 39% only sometimes wash them after coughing
Perhaps most concerningly 4% of Brits – around 2.7 million people – also said they never wash their hands (or body) after sex, and over a quarter (28%) admitted they only sometimes do.
It seems the majority of women have kept up the good hand-washing habits, with 82% saying they always give them a wash after using the bathroom. Tragically though, only 69% of men said the same – and an even more appalling 7% (equal to around 2 million men) said they hardly ever bother to do it at all.
On top of that, one in 10 people in Nottingham (11%) and Cardiff (10%) say they hardly ever wash their hands after using the bathroom for a number one, and nearly one in five people in Brighton (19%) say they hardly ever do after a number two.
As well as being generally disgusting, this is also a legitimate health hazard. Germs can be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, and if you don’t wash your hands after using the bathroom, you could be transferring those nasty germs to everything you touch.
Here are some tips for making sure your hands are clean as a whistle:
- Wet your hands with warm water.
- Apply soap and lather for at least 20 seconds.
- Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly with clean water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or hand dryer.
Following these tips can help to keep yourself squeaky clean and healthy, and avoid spreading any nasty germs around.
Methodology & sources
All survey data was taken from a survey of 1,500 general respondents in the UK, carried out in July 2023.