How to Practise Good Hygiene During COVID-19
16th June 2020
Coronavirus has changed the day-to-day lives of almost every single person on the planet. And regardless of what your standards of personal hygiene were before, it’s very likely that your daily routine has changed considerably in the last two months with regards to hygiene. Not just your own personal hygiene, but the way in which you prepare food, receive deliveries or even clean your house.
COVID-19 may be an incredibly infectious disease, but we know that preserving good hygiene standards is one of the most effective tools at our disposal – besides social distancing – to prevent the spread of the disease.
Keeping Up Personal Hygiene
If there’s one thing that the COVI-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that apparently personal hygiene doesn’t come as naturally to some as to others. Prior to lockdown and quarantine, the government’s mandate was to maintain good personal hygiene to stop the spread of the disease and chief among these measures was regular and proper handwashing.
However, as a BBC article recently discovered, handwashing still remains a foreign habit to millions of people around the country. Whether it be not washing our hands at all, or not understanding the correct method in order to kill germs, we are notoriously bad at keeping our hands clean, despite the fact that it is one of the most effective tools at our disposal for preventing the spread of disease.
For those of us who may have been skimping out on handwashing before, coronavirus has ensured that those bad habits are a thing of the past and the NHS itself has created instruction manuals during the pandemic in order to educate us on effective hand hygiene.
However, it’s not just our hands that we are cleaning more thoroughly. Since the pandemic occurred, more and more people are switching to daily showers where before they may have taken one every two or three days. This is especially true for people who are still going to daily essential work and concerned about bringing the virus home from whatever they may have touched throughout the day.
However, according to the WHO, the most effective method of preventing contracting the virus is to avoid touching your face and wash your hands correctly on a regular basis.
Keeping Your Home Clean
Of course, handwashing is incredibly important right now, but keeping your environment as hygienic as possible is just as vital, especially if you live with vulnerable people. Current knowledge surrounding the virus suggests that it could live on surfaces from a few hours to up to a few days depending on how many particles have been transferred at any given time.
In order to prove effective, surfaces need to be cleaned correctly in order to eliminate bacterial and viral particles. This means cleaning a surface first and foremost if it is dirty and then moving onto the disinfecting stage. Products should contain bleach or at least 70% alcohol in order to be fully effective. However, the most important step in disinfecting any surface is not wiping the product off as soon as it is applied. Most disinfectants need several minutes in order to be fully effective in killing harmful substances, so ensure that you check the instructions for specific products before using them.
Of course, even if you’re currently in lockdown, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to spend every waking hour disinfecting every surface in your home. But at least keeping the high-touch surfaces clean or regularly wiping them down is vital in the midst of a pandemic and can even help to foster some new good habits for when we come through on the other side. High-touch surfaces in our homes include things such as Door handles, tables, chairs, handrails, kitchen and bathroom surfaces, taps, toilets, light switches, screens (such as computers, mobile phones, tablets), keyboards and remote controls, game controllers and favourite toys.
How to Wash Your Clothes
Just as keeping our hands and bodies clean is vital for preserving good hygiene, so is having a safe and hygienic laundry routine to ensure that when our clothes find their way back to us, we are not carrying around harmful particles.
Changing into clean clothes if you have come home from crowded places or from work is, therefore essential. Try to avoid shaking dirty clothes when preparing them for washing, as this could spread the virus to surfaces in your home. If you use a laundry bag or fabric bin, then it is also advisable to wash this with every load of laundry as well as washing your hands thoroughly after handling dirty clothing.
Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a washing machine in their house, and if you must visit a launderette in order to clean your clothes, then you will need to exercise further precautions. This includes handling the majority of your clothing before you leave your home, as well as wearing gloves and a face mask when using the machines. If you are able, it is advisable that you wait outside for your laundry to finish to avoid contact with others and take all the necessary hygiene precautions upon coming back home including hand washing.
How to Handle Food and Packaging
While it has been stated by the WHO that the likelihood of contracting coronavirus through eating is highly unlikely, it is still important to practice the same level of food hygiene that you would under normal circumstances. However, it may be necessary to take extra precautions with items that you bring in or have delivered to your home.
For example, removing and disposing of any unnecessary packaging, such as coardbord from your food means that there is one less surface for the virus to live on. If you are able to, then decanting certain foods into your own tupperware that you know is clean will minimise this risk even further. If this is not an option, then simply wiping down your groceries and washing your hands regularly before or after preparing food can also help mitigate any potential spread.
For the slightly more germ-conscious amongst us, it may be the case that your hygiene routine hasn’t changed all that much at all since the pandemic has started. But for a large number of us, appropriate hygiene is something that we all mean to practice, but probably never get round to doing. After all, germs are invisible and it is all too easy to let our standards slide if we are too busy or feeling lazy.
However, COVID-19 has forced us to reconcile with the fact that ‘out of sight’ is certainly not ‘out of mind’ and that good hygiene can and does have an impact on our own health and well as the health of those around us. While it may take extra effort to wash more of our clothes and constantly wipe down our surfaces, we can make the effort knowing that we are investing in our health and wellbeing through these tough times and may even save lives in the process.
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