Tork – The Paper Towel Plea

Apr 11, 2024 9:30 AM ET

Originally published on

Almost 1 in 3 Americans face barriers when it comes to washing their hands.* Discover how removing these barriers can make your restrooms more hygienic and inclusive.

Watch the film

We placed the stories of people facing hand hygiene barriers into the hands of those with the power to make a change, at the very place these barriers occur. The restroom. 

Hand hygiene barriers

Throughout our lives, many of us do at some point face barriers when washing our hands in public restrooms. These invisible hand hygiene barriers can affect people in multiple ways, but there are multiple solutions. The problem is, it’s only the people who face the barriers that are aware of them. 

Age-related barriers

Our personal capabilities change with age, affecting mobility, reach and strength. In fact, around 1 in 5 adults experience difficulties using soap or hand towel dispensers due to an injury, health condition, physical capability or as a parent with a child.*

When you get to be my age, with my joints, simply using the buttons and faucets in public restrooms can be a real struggle.

Gay. New York

Auditory sensitivity

Some people are more sensitive to loud noises than others, especially the neurodivergent or autistic, as well as young children. 1 in 7 American adults cited loud noises as a source of difficulty personally or when assisting a child using public restrooms.*

I have to cover my daughter's ears if someone is using the dryer or Flushing the toilet. I hope one day she can use the restroom without the anxiety she has now.

-Mary, San Diego

Hygiene concerns

Many people avoid visiting public toilets and washing their hands due to poor hygiene levels. And more than 1 in 3 Americans cite lack of cleanliness as a barrier to using workplace or public restrooms.*

I have contamination OCD and am hypersensitive to dirty restrooms

Brooke. Utah

Skin sensitivities

Some soaps contain ingredients that can cause skin irritation. In the US 31.6 m people suffer from eczema** and may find that some hand soaps irritate their skin.

So many people have eczema like me, I don't get why they stock public restrooms with harsh fragrant soaps. It's not fair.

- Mason, Brooklyn, NY

Simple, practical actions

Simple, practical actions to help make hand hygiene more inclusive in your restroom.

Download your guide here.

"We applaud Tork for leading the charge on this important initiative and continuing to push for attention and improvement of the accessibility of hand washing in public and workplace restrooms."

Ron Clemmer, Secretariat Director, Global Handwashing Partnership


* Survey among nationally representative group, barriers faced personally or in assisting others, 2024  

** Eczema Prevalence, Quality of Life and Economic Impact (