Kuala Lumpur, June 25 — In a recent report titled “Too Clean or Not Too Clean“, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) stated that the belief that too much cleanliness could be bad for your health and that children needed to be exposed to germs, is a myth which needs to be addressed.
The hygiene hypothesis that allergies are caused by too much cleanliness which have killed off germs needed to challenge our immune systems was seen as a dangerous public misconception.
The RSPH said that while playing outside and getting dirty would help children by exposing them to good bacteria, it was essential that their hands were washed before eating and after using the toilet.
Exposure to the outdoors was seen as necessary to build a robust immune system, but that cleanliness was necessary during food preparation and prior to eating.
Out of 2,000 respondents, almost a quarter felt that “hygiene in the home is not important because children need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune system”.
Men were more than twice as likely as women to think there was low or no risk associated with not washing hands with soap after using the toilet.
The report stated that washing the floor or cleaning inside the toilet bowl (flushing dispels the germs) was not that important but that surfaces and wash dishcloths should always be clean.
Hand washing was deemed by the report to be the most important action needed to break the spread of pathogens. It should always be done after playing/ caring for pets, before and after food preparation, coughing and sneezing.
The recommendations including children being taught in school about how infection occurred and about targeted hygiene.
“This should embed best practice of hygiene from an early age and promote consistent understanding of the terminology used to talk about hygiene and hygiene issues.”