Hands up: only 50 percent of Dutchies wash their hands after using the toilet

The Dutch are the least hygienic country in Europe, a survey by GallUp has revealed. Only 50 percent of Dutchies surveyed washed their hands each time, automatically with soap and water after using the toilet.

Obviously, washing your hands after using the toilet (and before eating) helps to prevent disease and keep a population healthy. Particularly for diseases that affect the intestinal system, handwashing can reduce transmission by up to fifty percent. Although these types of diseases do not affect the Netherlands as much as other countries, clean hands are always a bonus – especially at wintertime when there are plenty of illnesses going around. Especially in this season, where the coronavirus is spreading through the world and Europe, it’s high time that Dutchies washed their hands.

Meme by DutchReview made with makeameme.org

Dutch mothers teach their children not to pee on their hands

But in the Netherlands, hand washing does not seem to be a big part of the toilet-going culture. Some Dutchies we asked actually thought it was good that most Dutch people did not wash their hands after going to the toilet: “Dutch mothers teach their children to not pee on their hands,” Joe said. But as another DutchReviewer, Carlos said, pee is far from the only problem and even if you’re able to pee standing up, one would hope you wash your hands afterwards.

Not washing your hands is very common

Some expats confirmed the prevalence of non-hand washing in their workplaces. Andra said for example: “I work in a building where a couple of smaller companies are sharing a bathroom. Every day I see women who either don’t wash their hands at all after using the toilet or keep their hands under the water for 3 seconds (without any soap) and call that a proper wash. It’s sad, shocking and disguising.” It was a common theme: Fiona said “I was in the Magna Plaza in Amsterdam there was a very big queue to use the toilet and while I was waiting I was shocked that hardly anyone washed their hands!”

Lack of soap in bathrooms

But there is more to the story than that: some expats’ colleagues did actually wash their hands after using the bathroom. And Berk and Suzanne remarked that there was a real lack of soap in Dutch bathrooms as well.

Here’s a map of Europe showing how often do people wash their hands. Sure, the map is a bit off because Kosovo is to the East of Romania (where Moldova should be), and there’s also no Belgium. So take this map with a pinch of salt.

What do you think- do the Dutch wash their hands enough? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature image: Burst/Pexels. 

Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


  1. I would like to know which cities they did the reseach. And at which time places. Amsterdam is clearly a more dirty city then Arnhem or Leiden.
    Also claiming low hygiene standards only based on handwashing is very shortsighted.
    How ofter is the toilet being cleaned, how often do people shower and change clothes. City street reflect a lot of the hygiene, lot of trash and food attracts rats and other is pests.
    the dutch mothers i know definitely teach to wash your hands when you get back in from outside and to wash your hands after using the toilet.
    When it comes to spreading the virus the biggest problem is people not staying home when sick and travelling from and to infected areas when not needed. Isolate yourself as much as you can for a couple of weeks.

    • Visit any mensroom in the Netherlands, for instAnce in a restaurant, station, theater… How many men simply walk out without washing their hands with water and soap? Be honest.

      • Pretty much every washes their hands after they pee in the mens bathroom.
        How many girls do the same though? I now a girl who complains to me after not washing my hands in my own house while she doesn’t even washes hers.

  2. Mr. Raphael: all what I read in your text is excuses. Hygiene starts with something as basic as washing your hands after using the toilet, with soap. But it looks so complex to do that people rather not to do.
    This is why I don’t shake hands at work and use a toilet paper towel to close the tap and open the bathroom door when I need to use the bathroom.
    I can’t believe that there are people who still have a excuse for that dirty behaviour.


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