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Report Stresses Importance of Clean Homes for Infection Control

Clean homes do not cause allergies in children

June 28, 2019

There is no longer any excuse for keeping a dirty house. A new report from the Royal Society for Public Health wants to banish the myth that keeping your home too clean will ruin children’s immunity and damage their health.

A hypothesis popular in the 1980s and 1990s posited the idea that children raised in clean homes were at an increased risk of developing allergies and that they should be exposed to germs to build up their immunity. While it’s true that people need diverse exposure to mostly harmless microbes, exposure to harmful microbes, such as those that cause e. coli, norovirus, and other illnesses, has no immunity benefit and will only make people ill. The report stated that lifestyle habits, such as keeping children indoors and an increased use of antibiotics, are to blame for allergies and other illnesses rather than an overly clean house.

The study recommended that people with limited time to clean worry less about cleaning floors and walls and concentrate on high-touch surfaces and areas where food is prepared. The report also stressed the importance of washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating, after using the restroom, coughing, and sneezing, and after handling dirty clothing and household linens. Dishcloths, bedding, and towels should be washed at high temperatures to kill germs.

A survey accompanying the report found that 23% of people queried mistakenly believed that hygiene in the home is not important because children need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune systems. More than half also thought that keeping your home too clean was damaging.

Cleaning for health is just as important in public facilities as homes. CMM offers strategies for removing disease-causing germs from public restrooms, such as precleaning surfaces to remove debris and bodily soils, then using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered product with kill claims for pathogens such as norovirus and influenza.

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