WITH the UK caught in the grip of a cleaning frenzy a fresh report has revealed exactly where and when we should be cleaning – with most of us overlooking key areas.
A report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has identified “public confusion” over hygiene, particularly in our homes.
The report, entitled To Clean or Not To Clean, said most people didn’t understand: “The relationship between dirt, germs, cleanliness and hygiene, and that while the importance of hygiene is well understood, the times and situations where it is most necessary are not.”
Nearly a quarter of people thought hygiene in the home wasn’t important, which the report called “worrying”, as people believe children should be exposed to dirt to build their immune systems.
The RSPH recommended a new approach to cleaning, called Targeted Hygiene, which champions “focusing hygiene in the places and at the times that matter”.
They outlined key areas and situations where people should ensure they’re as clean as possible.
People should maintain high standards of hygiene when making food, taking out the bins, using the loo, playing with pets, looking after sick people and when coughing or sneezing.
The report said: "Hygienic cleaning of food contact surfaces is vital after preparing raw foods such as meat and poultry, or before preparing ready to eat foods such as sandwiches and snacks.
"Hygienic cleaning of cleaning cloths and other cleaning utensils is important after they have been used to clean a contaminated surface.
"Clothing, household linens, toilets, sink and bath surfaces can also contribute to establishing a chain of infection.”
Situations most likely to spread germs
- During food handling.
- Whilst eating with fingers.
- Using the toilet.
- Coughing, sneezing and nose blowing.
- Handling and laundering ‘dirty’ clothing and
- Caring for domestic animals.
- Handling and disposing of refuse.
- Caring for an infected family member who is shedding infectious microbes into the environment by vomiting or diarrhoea, or by touching foods or hand contact surfaces.
They acknowledged a steady trend since the 1990s against using disinfectants or antibacterials, because of "as yet unproven concerns that their use may contribute to antibiotic resistance.”
The report said: “These products are sometimes necessary to break the chain of infection and in doing so this avoids the need for antibiotic treatments.”
People need to understand the difference between ‘hygiene’ and ‘cleanliness’, partly to reduce pressure on the health system, the RSPH said.
Interestingly, the report also found men are likely to be dirtier than women.
The findings showed men are: “Consistently more likely than women to say unhygienic behaviour had low or no risk for health.
“Women also tended to indicate better hygiene practice – for example, men were twice as likely as women to say they never washed their hands after sneezing.”
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