According to the Global Hygiene Council’s (GHC) public health experts, following a risk-based approach to home hygiene is essential to help curb the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

It is estimated that rates of resistance to commonly-used antibiotics could exceed 40–60% in some countries by 2030.  With antimicrobial resistance (AMR) set to claim the lives of 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken, the GHC’s experts are calling for a review of hygiene practices in homes and everyday life to ensure that they are effective and appropriate to the urgent public health issues we currently face, such as AMR and COVID-19.

In a new Position Paper developed by the GHC and published in the September edition of the American Journal of Infection Control, the experts set out the evidence showing that better hygiene in our homes and everyday lives plays an essential part in tackling antibiotic resistance. Good hygiene contributes to the fight against AMR in two ways, by preventing infection, thereby reducing the need for antibiotic prescribing and preventing person to person spread of infections which are antibiotic resistant.

The paper reviews evidence that to minimise the spread of infections in home and community settings, a more focused approach to hygiene based on risk assessment is needed. For example, removing infection-spreading germs from high-risk surfaces and hands at critical times, such as when preparing food and using the toilet, has been proven to minimise the spread of infections from person to person. One intervention study demonstrates that improved hand hygiene amongst a group of children in a day centre can reduce the need for antibiotic use for common respiratory infections by 30%.3

As Professor Sally Bloomfield, public health expert and contributor to the paper, explains; “Instead of deep-cleaning our homes, we urge everyone to maintain this evidence-based Targeted Hygiene approach in our homes and everyday lives, focusing on the times and places harmful microbes are most likely to spread, to not only help contain the spread of coronavirus now, but ongoing to help tackle AMR.”