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Hurried Hygiene

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Millions of Brits neglect a string of basic personal hygiene tasks – because they are too busy or too lazy, a survey has found.

Researchers found barely half of adults always wash their hands with soap after visiting the toilet. Shockingly, 27 per cent of workers claim to be too rushed at work to wash and dry their hands properly after nipping to the loo.

Additionally, 58 per cent of men regularly skip the morning shower – with one quarter admitting they would rather have the extra time in bed; one in three said they simply couldn’t be bothered.

It’s not just personal hygiene standards which are slipping; a host of household jobs also fall by the wayside amid our hectic lifestyles, the report by the The Global Hygiene Council found.

One in twenty of the 2000 adults polled in the Dettol HABIT (Hygiene, Attitudes, Behaviour, Insight & Traits) study said the last time they cleaned their toilet was a month ago and 10 per cent said it was two weeks ago. Incredibly, one quarter of lazy Brits change their bed sheets just once a month.

Professor John Oxford, Chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at Queen Mary College, University of London said:  ”We all live extremely busy lives and 21st century living is much faster paced than it was say 20 years ago.

”However there is no excuse as to why people are neglecting basic tasks like washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet and cleaning their home to a standard that is healthy for people to inhabit.

”There is a stark difference between a tidy home and hygienically clean home – if people do not want to make the bed and put clothes away then so be it, but it’s important to target the hygiene hotspots and properly clean and disinfect the areas which matter like kitchen surfaces, sinks and of course the toilet.

”Naturally we all want to have a lie in but skipping a morning wash is both anti-social for the people who have to sit next to us at work and unhealthy, a morning shower will not only wake you up but washing regularly can help to limit the transmission of germs and pathogens.”

More than two thirds of those polled said their house was tidy but not necessarily clean, whilst an honest 11 per cent people admitted their home was in fact ‘quite dirty’.

The study also revealed one in five haven’t cleaned or disinfected their fridge in over a year and one in twenty have never cleaned their fridge despite it being a breeding ground for bacteria, some of which thrive at cooler temperatures. Half of those polled said they often leave work surfaces in their kitchen to get ‘really bad’ before cleaning them even after preparing raw meat and vegetables on them.

More than half say they rarely wash their hands before eating or preparing a meal. Naively 16 per cent of those polled said ‘a bit of dirt and germs is good for you’ and 10 per cent believe it takes too long to make sure everything is clean and germ free.

Professor John Oxford added:  ”We’re not suggesting you live in a sterile environment – that would be impossible – but we are suggesting you make time in your busy day to wash hands with soap at key times and target the areas of your home which are responsible for causing infection to spread around the household.”

Of those polled one in ten said they leave their house at least two mornings a week without brushing their teeth. Not surprisingly then, more than one in five have received comments from people regarding their personal hygiene.

Professor Oxford concludes: ”Hand washing with soap and surface disinfection should be everyday habits along with things like showering and brushing your teeth.

”Many infections are completely preventable with good hygiene. Superbugs like norovirus, diarrhoeal disease and food poisoning could be reduced by up to 47 per cent if everyone was to wash their hands at the right times.

”Person-to-person transmission of infection occurs frequently in the home, therefore household hygiene is of critical importance. Remember that we can’t see the pathogens that make us ill, therefore regular cleaning and targeted disinfection of commonly touched surfaces is essential to kill these bacteria and viruses.

”We have found that those people who make personal and household hygiene a habit or a routine have lower reported illness”.



Hand washing with soap and surface disinfection should be everyday habits along with things like showering and brushing your teeth.

Professor John Oxford, Chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at Queen Mary College, University of London



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