It’s time to clean up our act on home hygiene: embedding Targeted Hygiene for health resilience

Targeted Hygiene challenges the hygiene status quo by building the public’s understanding of how to manage infection risk, and in doing so, has the potential to increase the UK’s resilience to future disease threats.

Practising good hygiene starts at home

On average, we spend over a third of our lives at home.Hygiene behaviours, especially those relating to hand, food, toilet, respiratory, laundry and pet hygiene have a huge bearing on overall population health. The Covid-19 pandemic also showed us the importance of practising good hygiene within our shared use of public spaces (including schools, workplaces, supermarkets public transport, leisure settings etc). When re-opening after lockdown restrictions, facilities had to implement strategies to make them “COVID secure”, but this fundamentally depended on whether the public using these facilities practiced effective hygiene behaviours.2,3

If we are to promote effective hygiene and disease resilience, we must reflect on how hygiene has been communicated and practised in the past and consider alternative, potentially more effective operational frameworks that we have available to us. In April 2022, RSPH and IFH carried out polling to assess how public perceptions and behaviours might have been shaped or reshaped by communication strategies employed during the pandemic.4 The poll found that there is good public awareness of some key daily moments to practice hygiene, however there is insufficient public understanding of how to distinguish high and low risk moments to practice hygiene.

The 2022 poll therefore shows that, to be effective, behaviour change strategies must be accompanied by public education on the basic concepts of the Targeted Hygiene framework i.e., the assessment and management of risk. This report puts forward key recommendations outlining how government and institutional policymakers can further embrace Targeted Hygiene to improve health resilience.


  1. There’s no place like home as Britons spend extra eight hours indoors. Daily Express [Internet]. 2020 Sep 28 [cited 2022 Dec 15]; Lifestyle: [about 1.p.]. Available from: home-house-dlat-indoors-time.
  2. Bloomfield SF. Hygiene resilience in public health – time for a fundamental rethink. The House [Internet]. 2022 Sep 06 [cited 2022 Dec 15]; [about 2.p]. Available from:
  3. HM Government. Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres [Internet]. HM Government; 2020 Nov 05 [cited 2022 Dec 15]. 42 p. Available from:
  4. Royal Society for Public Health. (2022). Hygiene Survey [Data on file].