Hand-washing study leaves black mark
Just one mainlander in 25 washes his or her hands properly, a Ministry of Health survey has found.
And when it comes to men, the figure gets even worse, shrinking to one in 35.
Many people do not wash their hands at all after going to the toilet, others do not use soap or clean water, mainland media reported.
The study provides apparent official confirmation of travellers' nightmare tales about poor hygiene on the mainland.
The statistics were revealed by health ministry spokesman Mao Qunan while addressing an event to promote the fourth Global Hand-washing Day on Saturday.
He said the report on the nations' hand-washing habits showed the urgent need for the government to step up efforts to promote better personal hygiene.
Residents in Beijing and the provinces of Zhejiang, Yunnan, Shaanxi and Liaoning took part in the survey, and the standards applied were based on the World Health Organisation guidelines for proper hand-washing habits.
The guidelines state five occasions when washing hands is essential: before eating; after going to the toilet; after completing a manual task or upon finishing work for the day; after handling money; and after visiting a hospital or coming into contact with someone who is sick.
They also state that hands should be washed with running water, using soap or other cleansing products, and the process should last for at least 20 seconds.
While overall, only 4 per cent, or one in 25, of people met the requirements, the figure rose to six per cent, or one in 16, in cities.
In contrast to the poor figures racked up by men, one in 17 women surveyed managed to come up to scratch.
While sex and urban or rural living played a part in cleanliness, age did not appear to be a factor.