Why is good hygiene so important?

Hygiene product safety

Hygiene throughout history

About you - personal hygiene

Around home - household hygiene

Out and about - hygiene beyond the home

Hygiene in industry

Top hygiene tips

ALERT: Coronavirus hygiene advice

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. People with coronavirus may experience fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, and shortness of breath. Some people recover easily, others may get very sick very quickly.

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China. In Australia, Federal Health is monitoring the situation and providing regular updates.

There is evidence that COVID-19 spreads from person to person. Good hygiene is the primary defence against infection. Targeted hygiene practices can go a long way to help keeping you and your family safe.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.

  • Wet hands with clean, running water before applying soap.
  • Lather both hands, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing and drying.

Supervise young children when using alcohol-based hand rubs. Make sure the product completely dries on their hands―don’t let them lick any wet product! Store the bottle safely out of reach, taking the appropriate care that you would for any other household product. For advice on possible poisoning, please contact the 24-hour Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

Be especially vigilant with handwashing before and after food preparation, visiting the bathroom, travelling on public transport or visiting public/communal spaces, and before and after caring for someone who is sick.

Practice good cough/sneeze hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your flexed elbow or a tissue. Then discard the tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Avoid close contact with others, such as touching. Maintain at least 1.5 metres between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Routinely clean surfaces. Coronaviruses can survive on surfaces for many hours or more but are readily inactivated by cleaning and disinfection. (For more information on cleaning and disinfection, and what the difference is, click here.)

  • High-touch surfaces (such as tabletops, door handles, light switches and taps) should be cleaned frequently with detergent solution or detergent/disinfectant wipes. Sinks and basins should also be cleaned regularly.
  • Other surfaces can be cleaned with detergent solution or wipes (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) when they are visibly dirty.

Disinfection can be performed after a surface has been cleaned and is dry.

Make sure you use appropriate products for the type of surface and follow the label instructions.


Additional resources

Hygiene is all about preserving good health
…by promoting conditions and practices that keep you and your surroundings clean.
Good hygiene helps prevent the spread of organisms that can cause disease. This helps decrease illness in society, as well as the consequences of illness such as suffering, lost productivity and lost income. Improvements in hygiene can be linked to increased life expectancy, decreased infant mortality and decreased infectious disease.
Maintaining good personal hygiene and living in clean surroundings can help you feel good about yourself and about life in general.
Effective hygiene products, good hygiene practices and public sanitation measures work together to provide all of these benefits.
Explore the eight sections above to learn how.