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Q: Can cleaning too much give my children allergies?

A: There is no evidence that proves that cleaning too much causes allergies in children. While some exposure to germs can help to build up our immune systems, many more harmful germs can cause food poisoning, sickness and diarrhoea. This means it’s really important to regularly clean the hygiene hotspots to reduce the spread of harmful germs in the home – what the Hygiene Council calls "targeted disinfection".

Q: How often do I need to wash my hands?

A: The number of times you need to wash your hands will depend on what you’ve been doing. Before eating or after using the toilet are well recognised ones, but it’s also important to thoroughly clean hands after coughing or sneezing, or when changing a child’s nappy. Washing hands before AND after handling raw food will help to stop transmission of food-borne germs like salmonella, while cleaning hands after touching pets will help to prevent picking up the illnesses carried by animals. You should also clean hands whenever they appear dirty. For a full list, download the Hygiene Standards Booklet.

Q: I’m expecting my first baby. Will I be able to use household cleaning products around my young child?

A: Your baby’s immune system will not be fully developed for some months, so it’s really important to use quality antibacterial products to clean hygiene hotspots like your baby’s changing mat to help to prevent your baby becoming ill. Try using a surface cleanser which is safe to use around baby areas. Once your baby’s a bit older, remember to keep cleaning products out of your child’s reach.

Q: What’s the most important way to protect myself and my family from infections like swine flu?

A: The most important thing is to break the chain of transmission of infection. Disinfect surfaces you are touching that may be contaminated with the swine flu virus, such as doors, handles and taps, and make sure the whole family is regularly cleaning hands with antibacterial soap and clean water if possible, or a hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.


Access to clean water and soap may also boost growth in young children

New research by the Cochrane Collaboration suggests that access to clean water and soap not only improves hygiene but may also boost growth in young children.

Hygiene Council recommendations on cold and flu prevention

The Hygiene Council have issued a cold and flu consensus statement, which details recommendations as to how to prevent cold and flu. Read more...

Hygiene hypothesis not supported by evidence

A new report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concludes that the hygiene hypothesis is not supported by evidence. Read more...