Health is wealth – a famous proverb that almost everyone has heard of but may not have fully understood its essence. Health comes from maintaining cleanliness and hygiene which starts from home and expands to workplaces and public areas (Stanwell-Smith & Bloomfield, 2004). Understanding that health correlates with happiness, enjoyment and pleasure can help change the perception of good health and its importance. There are several facets of health, but this paper focuses on home hygiene with the aim to provide an insight on some of the hygiene practices in home and everyday life settings, to pinpoint common symptoms and possible health problems as well as to discuss the likelihood of establishing an effective policy for home hygiene.
Home is where we live and sleep hence it is our responsibility to make it a clean and hygienic household for the sake of all house members (permaculturenews.org, n.d.). Surprisingly, one in four of the public still believe that hygiene in the home is not important (2019).
Another survey agreed that 23 percent of the 2,000 participants claimed that hygiene is not important at home as children should be exposed to harmful germs to build up their immune system (Boseley, 2019). It is found that infection and cross-infection often occur in the home (Embil, Dyck and Plourde, 2009). Home hygiene is basically about identifying the critical hygiene points and taking precautions so as to stop the spread of harmful germs (nhs.uk, 2003). Our actions help protect ourselves and our family from infection. By practicing hygiene in home and everyday life settings, it would impact significantly in reducing the global burden of infectious diseases and make homes much safer places.
The number of people at higher risk of infection, or have an infectious disease, is increasing (Embil, Dyck and Plourde, 2009). There are links in the chain of infection which allow an infection to pass from one source to another thus has become a global crisis that kills over 17 million people a year (World Health Organisation). These links include source of germs, way out for germs, spread of germs, way in for germs and person at risk from germs. To illustrate, someone or something, for instance food, pets and people, is carrying germs that can cause illness. The germs find a way out of an infected person or source so as to be passed on to another person. The germs then find a way into someone else and put all of us at risk of infection. Those with lowered defenses due to age, treatment and illness are most likely to be infected.
The chain can be broken if at least one link is removed (Stanwell-Smith & Bloomfield, 2004). This can be done by keeping an infected person isolated and is taken care of with raw food, diapers and soiled items (nhs.uk, 2003). Prevent coughs and sneezes getting onto surfaces or hands. Make sure the food is properly cooked and water is clean to drink and be extra careful about cleanliness with food and feeds for people at more risk. Infections can be passed directly from one person to another or indirectly with surfaces, equipment and unwashed hands. The easiest solution to break the chain of infection is to remove the spread of germs link and take control.
Infections, mainly caused by microorganisms, can spread easily, both with direct and indirect contact (Bloomfield, 2003). Humans are surrounded with millions of microbes, be it homes or workplaces, which should be removed for good hygiene especially when there is a risk of spread of infections as they will multiply and grow and make people sick (Anderson, Anderson and May, 1992). Some of the common infectious diseases include chickenpox, common cold, malaria, meningitis, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, tuberculosis and pertussis (Anderson, 2004). These diseases tend to have specific symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, fatigue and muscle aches, and are treated differently depending on the severity and one’s immune system (Jones et al., 2008). While most can be treated by taking antibiotics, it is advised to consult a doctor should the symptoms get worse or last longer than a few days. It is equally important to understand that heavy reliance on antibiotics may reduce the ability to treat infections. Good hygiene means fewer infections and hence reduced demand of antibiotics. This will limit the circulation of antibiotics in the community and the need for development of new generation and potent antibiotics.
The Department of Health (2010) has suggested some house cleaning materials and equipment. Some of these include cleaning products for floors, bathroom, laundry tubs, kitchen sinks, meal areas, detergent for kitchen items and household linen, and disinfectant. Each of these have certain cleaning requirements and should only be used as advised. Allocating household cleaning duties to a certain timetable can help maintain good home hygiene. It is essential to understand that some things in the house can get much dirtier than usual, hence keeping it clean is necessary. For instance, cleaning kitchen benches or tables after food preparation and washing dishes after each meal several times a day. We should sweep the floors and empty trash once a day. Tasks like washing floors, cleaning toilets, laundry tubs, dusting surfaces and washing clothes should be done once or twice a week. For remaining tasks such as cleaning the refrigerator, oven, cupboards and windows can be done once each month.
Home hygiene is interconnected with hand, general and food hygiene. Hand hygiene is the most important way of preventing infection as germs can move around with hands and can spread to anything the hands touch (IFH, 2019). The skin is the first-line barrier to infections as it has natural antibacterial properties, hence should be kept as clean and healthy as possible (Boyce et al., 2009). Hands should be washed correctly before preparing food, before eating food, immediately after handling raw food, after using the toilet, after contact with contaminated areas, after contact with blood or body fluids, and whenever hands are dirty (nhs.uk, 2003). The correct way to wash hands is to ensure to apply soap, rub hands together for at least 20 seconds, paying particular attention to