(WBTV) -- Thinking about heading into a public restroom and washing yourhands? Scientists at a company that produces and markets hygienesolutions says you'll probably walk away with more germs than before.

Gojo Industries Inc., the maker of Purell hand sanitizer, says aquarter of the soap in public restrooms is so contaminated that itleaves your hands dirtier than before you washed them.

One out of four refillable bulk soap dispensers in the community iscontaminated with unsafe levels of bacteria, the company says in anonline campaign.

NOTE: The company produces and sells soap refills that come with a new nozzle, which it is promoting.

It points to a 2011 study published in the Applied and EnvironmentalMicrobiology paper for the American Society for Microbiology.

In an elementary school-based field study, researchers discoveredthat bacteria on the hands of students and staff increased by nearly26-fold after washing with soap from contaminated bulk-soap-refillabledispensers.

The bacteria found in contaminated dispensers were there in concentrations of about 1,000 times what the industry recommends.

The germs remaining on the hands are easily transferred to other surfaces, the company reminds people.

"Even worse, once a dispenser becomes contaminated it is impossibleto eliminate the bacteria in the dispenser, even with aggressivecleaning agents, such as bleach," Gojo Industries stated.

It says the contamination is the result of a fundamental design flawin the dispenser. The same container and nozzle are used indefinitely,usually without cleaning in between refilling - which is as recommended.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hand hygiene isone of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections. TheCDC has a "Guideline for Hand Hygiene" posted on its website.

"Do not add soap to a partially empty soap dispenser," the guidelinesstate. "This practice of 'topping off' dispensers can lead to bacterialcontamination of soap."

GOJO Industries says sealed soap dispensers, where the soap is sealedinto a bag or cartridge at the factory and never opened in thebathroom, are safer and less prone to contamination by harmful bacteriathan refillable soap dispensers.

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