Last week was National Hygiene Week (5-11 July), which brought UK communities and businesses together to tackle, and raise awareness of hygiene poverty.
COVID-19 has impacted our lives in many, many ways – from how we work and communicate, to the ways we shop and even our eating habits. Another significant way the global pandemic has transformed our world is that we’re now more alert to cleanliness than ever before.
But just how have our attitudes to hygiene adapted over the last 18 months?
From the beginning, we’ve been told again and again that washing our hands properly is one of the most important things we can do to prevent ourselves and control the spread of COVID-19. The general advice is that we should wash our hands:
You should wash your hands for around 20 seconds – with water and soap – and then dry them completely. Find out more about how to thoroughly and correctly wash your hands on the NHS website. The alternative to water and soap is of course using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (this was initially hard to come by, with shelves all over the world completely bear of the stuff as companies struggled to get hold it peak-pandemic), although according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), washing hands with soap and water is preferable to the santising gel. This is because the sanitiser may not be as effective at eliminating all germs, including some viruses.
Of course, good hand hygiene doesn’t only apply to the spread of COVID-19 – it’s always been a good and reliable way to reduce the risk of catching things like the flu and other infections; things that can be passed from person to person.
From cleaning tips and clothes washing to preparing meals – keeping our homes clean and safe during the pandemic has been a top priority for a lot of us; doing all we can to keep the virus out. At times, simple tasks such as unpacking the food shopping, became sources of anxiety as we all weighed up the risks and tried to keep the virus at bay.
A big change has been that now, many household cleaning products clearly state that they are ‘Anti-virus’ or that they can ‘tackle coronavirus’, when before ‘antibacterial’ may have been the only requirement many of us looked out for.
While some of us have moved to a more ‘remote first’ working style, many people are still required to go into a workplace. To prepare these spaces, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has developed a seven-step hygiene guide and checklist for employers to ensure that their staff are protected, as much as possible, from the spread of COVID-19. This can be viewed here.
As we move ever closer to a post-COVID world, there are probably lots of things we're all keen to leave behind. But, there will be some things from the last 18 months that will remain – being more tuned into our personal hygiene and cleanliness whilst out-and-about may well be one. And as time goes on, it becomes harder and harder to remember life without them.
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