Millions of Britons unaware of health dangers of unclean home, poll suggests

‘The actions they are taking could mean they are at risk of becoming unwell this winter', says Dr Lisa Ackerley,

Astrid Hall
Tuesday 12 November 2019 17:57

People may be at risk of illness because they fail to clean their homes properly, according to a new poll of 2,000 British adults.

The survey suggested many labour over tasks which may clear up dust and dirt visible on the surface, but leave viruses untouched.

More than a quarter of respondents said they cleaned their homes with the ambition to make sure everything appears clean and tidy, working to remove all evidence of dust and dirt.

However, expert insight highlights how this could lead to virus-ridden homes as germs can remain on hard and soft surfaces for up to 48 hours – even after a daily dusting.

Just 17 per cent of those polled said their main objective when cleaning is to rid their house of cold and flu viruses.

Three in 10 confessed to only cleaning when they can see visible dirt.

“The research has gleaned some interesting insights into the cleaning habits of the nation, and how the actions they are taking could mean they are at risk of becoming unwell this winter,” said Dr Lisa Ackerley, the "Hygiene Doctor". "Although it’s reassuring to see millions of Brits are in the habit of keeping their homes spick and span, it’s the way they are doing it which might mean they aren’t actually as effective at reducing risks of illness as they think because the home may look clean, but it is not hygienic or disinfected at all.

“Studies have shown that flu viruses can survive on common household sites for extended periods of time, from up to 48 hours on wooden surfaces, eight hours on cloths, and 24-48 hours on non-porous surfaces.

“People may be surprised to learn that it is in fact hands and hand contact surfaces that can play a very important role in the journey of the germ, and that good hand hygiene together with regular disinfection of commonly touched surfaces can help to reduce transmission of colds and flu.

“Studies have also found household objects such as door handles, light switches, pens, tap and toilet handles, and television remote controls can become contaminated with viruses which are transmitted by dirty hands. In addition, when people come home from travelling on public transport, or being with crowds, for example when shopping, then it is important to wash hands immediately upon coming into the home to prevent the transfer of viruses onto surfaces.”

The survey also suggested people will clean for an hour a week on average, but one in six spend less than 20 minutes a week on household chores.

Of this time spent cleaning, 22 minutes are dedicated to vacuuming or sweeping, with just 14 minutes a week used for wiping down kitchen surfaces with an antibacterial cloth.

Only half of respondents believed the spread of viruses can happen in the home.​


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