an initiative of ACCORD


Living spaces hygiene – WHY?

You are unlikely to pick up pathogens from the living spaces in your home. But keeping these areas clean and free from debris, dust, dust mites and animal hair can make them more comfortable environments to be in, as well as healthier.

For example, dust particles from the floor and other surfaces can be dispersed into the air, potentially triggering allergic reaction if inhaled. Also, mould can grow on surfaces that are damaged or prone to dampness. And debris can be attractive to pests such as insects and rodents, which carry germs in and on their bodies, and can transmit these germs to us by direct contact (such as biting) or by indirect contact (contaminating our food, surfaces or equipment).

Living spaces hygiene – HOW?

Often regarded as a necessary evil, household chores such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, dusting and wiping up are important aspects of keeping living spaces hygienic.

  • Regular sweeping or vacuuming removes loose particles, including dust, from floors.
  • Hard floors can then be wiped down or mopped to remove dirt and visible mould growth using general-purpose cleaners and water, or specialised products for particular flooring materials such as stone, parquetry or laminate which not only remove soils but also preserve the appearance of the flooring material.
  • Carpets stains can be removed using specialised spot cleaners, or carpet shampoo can be used for a deep clean to remove ground-in dirt and stubborn stains.
  • Soft furnishings can be cleaned with specialised upholstery shampoos. These are available as sprays, liquids, powders and aerosols for different material types.
  • Disinfectants are used to kill germs, especially where living areas become contaminated with human or animal body fluids or waste.
  • Glass cleaners remove grease and dirt from windows and mirrors, leaving the surface shiny and streak-free. These are available as sprays, liquids, foams and wipes.


Keeping your home clean and free of debris will also help discourage pests. However, should your house become infested, there are a range of pest control products available for insects and arachnids including cockroaches, ants, flies, mosquitoes and spiders: Set and forget” automatic systems; aerosols and surface sprays; fly papers; bombs; baits; repellents; and outdoor lanterns, zappers and coils. There are also rodent traps and baits.


Pets carry pathogens in the same ways that humans do. But you are not likely to get sick from your pet if you look after your pet’s health, and practice good hygiene. In fact, research suggests that having a pet is good for your health! (Source 1)

Good pet hygiene means:


  • Washing your hands after touching pets, their equipment (including cages, fences, food bowls and bedding), or cleaning up their urine, faeces or vomit.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting any area that becomes contaminated with animal excretions.
  • Keeping your pets and their equipment away from food preparation areas. This means not cleaning animal equipment (such as cages and bowls) in the kitchen sink.
  • If you are scratched, licked or bitten by an animal, washing the affected area immediately with soap and running water.
  • Keeping your pets immunised and regularly treated for fleas, ticks, worms and other infections.


Exactly what is dust?

Well, the composition varies depending on many factors, such as the number and habits of people in the home, the number and type of pets, and the location of the house. But most dust contains some human skin, animal fur, decomposing insects, food debris, fabric lint & fibres, soil, particles from cooking, and if there is a smoker in the house, from smoking. About 60% of household dust comes from outside through windows, doors, vents and on the soles of shoes.

Dust can accumulate on surfaces or become deeply embedded in carpet and upholstery. It is important to reduce the amount of dust in the home, not just to make the house a more comfortable living environment, but also because droppings from dust mites, which feed on skin particles in dust, can cause allergic reactions in some susceptible individuals.

Source 1: Headey, B. 2003, “Pet ownership: good for health?”, Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 179, No. 9, pp 460-461

useful stuff...

Flushing the toilet sprays bacteria and viruses into air, which may float around for two hours after each flush.21 In 2006, women spent an average of 29 minutes and men 5 minutes per day on laundry & clothes care, and women spent an average of 69 minutes and men 29 minutes per day on food and drink preparation & cleanup.9 Australians experience approximately 15.9 million episodes of gastroenteritis every year.10
In 2006, Australians spent approximately 73% of their time at home or at someone else's house.9

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