If you would like to send a question to Professor John Oxford's team, please use our 'Submit a question' form which can be found here
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.
The work of The Hygiene Council and The Hygiene for the 21st Century initiative is funded through an educational grant from Reckitt Benckiser.