Michigan State University researchers camped out in public restrooms, and found only 5 percent of people properly washed their hands long enough to kill infection-causing germs and bacteria.
While health officials often remind people to make sure they're washing their hands correctly, especially around flu season, the low statistics shocked even the study authors.
"These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate," lead investigator Carl Borchgrevink, an associate professor of hospitality business at Michigan State University in East Lansing, said in a statement.
Hand-washing saves lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Proper technique can cut cold and flu risk, prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses and other infections in close settings like cruise ships and hospitals