Cleaning & maintenance products: A vital role in our health and well-being

Life today would be unimaginable without the products made by the soaps, detergents and maintenance products industry. It would be impossible to get through a single day without using one of the industry’s products: no clean clothes, clean dishes, or clean floors; no hygienic hospital equipment or food preparation areas.

In Europe, hygiene standards are relatively high, but in many parts of the world hygiene is still an ongoing challenge. In the developing world, many lives are lost everyday due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene. In the developed world, the emergence of certain infectious diseases in the home and public places indicates that there is room for improvement.  

It is within this context that the industry’s products play an essential role, both inside and outside the home. They are not only indispensable to the proper maintenance of people’s possessions but more importantly, when coupled with regular hygiene practices, they have a proven positive effect on health by combating the spread of germs.

Across Europe, the rate of disease transmitted by food remains unacceptably high. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 40% of food-borne outbreaks occur in private homes.  Germs/pathogens are introduced continually into the home by people, contaminated food and domestic animals. Studies have shown that some types of germs can persist on surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and other places in the home.  These include Salmonella and E.coli, which can cause serious gastrointestinal infections.  Most germs breed in humid areas such as sinks, shower stalls, toilets and drains, while mould can grow on damp surfaces such as tiled walls.
Bacteria such as Staphylococci, which cause skin, wound and eye infections, and the cold virus can persist on dry surfaces like towels, household linens, door handles, tap handles and computer keyboards.

Cleanliness, hygiene and disinfection… A matter of definitions
Cleaning is the mechanical removal of dirt and soils from an object or an area.  Under normal conditions, cleaning with soap or detergent followed by rinsing with water is adequate to remove visible dirt, allergens and germs.  However, in some situations where there is high risk of transmission of germs (e.g. during preparation of raw foods or when there is someone in the home who is infected or is very vulnerable to infection), use of a disinfectant is advisable.
Hygiene refers to the practice through which people maintain or promote good health by making themselves and their surroundings clean, by cleaning and – when needed- disinfecting surfaces, units, surroundings and items of personal use in order to break the chain of infection.

This site provides an overview of cleaning and hygiene services as well as a few tips on hygiene and best practices.

For more information, please find attached an extract on the benefits of home hygiene by Professor Sally Bloomfield of the International Scientific Forum on Home and Hygiene (IFH).

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