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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad home hygiene

10:53 AM

IT is a sad state of affairs that many people around the world, Malaysia included, still fail to adopt simple hygiene at home, what more in public places.

In a survey conducted by the Hygiene Council (with 10,000 respondents around the world) on mostly housewives with children, the 1,000 respondents from Malaysia gave very startling results.

Some 13% of them do not wash their hands after using the toilet, 10% do not wash their hands after eating or handling food, and 46% do not wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.

Dr Christopher Lee, the Malaysian representative on the Hygiene Council, says that scientific evidence has shown that washing one’s hands can significantly reduce the incidence of communicable infections by up to 59%.

Lee says that proper hygiene practices should be taught at home and parents themselves should set good examples for their children.

“The home is where [people] must focus their attention on to ensure that we protect our families and friends from the threat of infectious diseases.

“People on average spend 55% of their lives in their home. We should not let our guard down even when the danger from Hand, Foot and Mouth disease and bird flu has receded.

Personal and environmental hygiene reduces the risk of illness by more than 20%. If good hygiene is practised in the workplace as well as at home, the rate of transmission of infectious diseases will be reduced greatly,” adds Lee during a recent press conference to elaborate on the Hygiene Council’s findings.

According to the survey, 63% of the respondents were sure that the toilet basin was where most germs can be found at home. However, scientific evidence has shown there are more harmful germs on switches, door handles, table tops, the kitchen chopping board, and other frequently-touched surfaces than the toilet seat. Even the washing machine can harbour viruses like E. coli.

Touching these surfaces will cause the viruses to get on to your hands, which in turn will enter your body through the mucous glands, eyes or mouth when you touch those areas of your face.

Lee says there are four steps to ensure good hygiene is practised at home. They are cleaning (hands, utensils); heat (washing and cooking); disinfectants (for frequently-touched surfaces, toys, toilets, etc); and drying.

Wash hands with a good anti-bacterial soap and use disinfectant sprays and liquids to clean frequently-touched surfaces at home for best results.

Lee hopes that the survey findings will get people to place more emphasis on cleaning frequently-touched surfaces such as the remote control and phone.

The Hygiene Council recently came out with a Hygiene Matters guide which is now available via its website at The survey was supported on an educational grant from Dettol.

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