Hygiene is in the spotlight like almost never before. It’s always been important, but now – and likely for many years to come – it’s absolutely vital.

Not only can excellent hygiene practices help to minimise the chance of picking up and passing on Covid-19, they can also ward off countless other unwelcome bugs and viruses, from the common cold to the dreaded stomach flu.

Here are seven hygiene tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

1. Wash your hands properly and often

The importance of washing your hands often, and using hand sanitiser for times when you can’t, cannot be overstated.

Even if you have a virus on your hands, a simple hand washing will stop it in its tracks. This is especially true when it comes to Covid-19, as soap breaks down the virus and kills it dead.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published some guidelines around effective hand washing.

According to WHO, “washing your hands properly takes about as long as singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice”.

It’s equally important to wash your hands often, especially after going to the bathroom or patting animals, and before touching food.

Hand sanitiser and other alcohol-based solutions are helpful as well, even if not quite as good as soap. It still kills the virus, but since it is harder to smother the entire surface of your hands, it can be less effective (but still a fantastic alternative when you are not immediately able to wash your hands!).

2. Clean clothes with the warmest temperature possible

Every piece of clothing you own has a label on it that recommends the ideal washing temperature. This varies from fabric to fabric, as high heat can be damaging for certain materials.

Generally, warmer temperatures are best for killing any bacteria that has settled in the fabric during wear. If you have items that can only be cleaned with cool water, consider using a laundry sanitiser product.

3. Clean high-touch areas often

When cleaning the house, it’s easy to focus on noticeably dirty spaces, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Yet some areas see exceptionally high use, but low cleaning.

This includes places such as door handles, window latches, locks, and stair railings. Think about the places you touch often, but might not think to clean. Use a disinfectant to clean these areas regularly.

4. Wash food from the supermarket

At the supermarket, it’s alarmingly common to see shoppers grab several avocados and other fresh produce to test for ripeness before making a selection. Who knows how many people have picked up the same apple before you bring it home?

Give fresh fruit and veggies a wash in warm water before you eat them to help clean away any bacteria they may be carrying. If you’re particularly worried, consider peeling and discarding the skin.

5. Check your coughing and sneezing etiquette

It’s normal to cough or sneeze occasionally even when you’re not sick, but it’s still important to practice good coughing etiquette.

This means facing away from other people, as well as surfaces, if you can help it. Then, cough and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue, before following up with a hand wash to be safe.

6. Consider if a face mask is right for you

There has been some debate around whether or not face masks should be worn here. Naturally, they are a must for healthcare and other frontline workers, but what about everyday people?

If you have a cold, flu, or other bug, a mask can be a good way to stop your own infection from spreading to others. It helps to stop infected droplets when you cough, sneeze, or even speak. By wearing one, it might also help you to remember not to touch your nose and mouth, which can spread your own infection, or infect you from outside sources.

Note that you must clean your hands when you put on or remove a mask, you must not touch it while wearing it, and it must fit your face without gaps between it and your skin. Never reuse a single-use mask, and replace it as soon as it gets damp.

Finally, as we have all learned in recent times, something as simple as keeping a physical distance between yourself and others can also help. Staying two metres away from others can make all the difference in the world when it comes to stopping the spread of unwelcome disease.

Disclamer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not substitute advice from your healthcare professional. If symptoms persist or you require specialist advice, please consult your healthcare professional.

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