The Global Hygiene Reset

The Global Hygiene Reset

In September 2021 Rentokil Initial released “The Global Hygiene Reset”, examining the  pandemic’s influence on people’s behaviour, expectations and attitudes regarding hygiene.

The pest control and hygiene services provider surveyed 20 000 people across 20 countries – including South Africa – to build a global perspective.

“The Global Hygiene Reset” provides unique insights into how individuals have adapted their hygiene behaviours because of the Covid-19 pandemic and sheds light on the multiple ways the benchmark for “good hygiene” has shifted as a response.

Over the past 20 months, public health advice has continually emphasised the importance of better hand, surface and air hygiene practices. This has led to a greater awareness of how easily pathogens spread, and the hygiene practices needed both at home and in the workplace to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and other common viruses, such as influenza and norovirus.

The report notes that 72% of people surveyed are now more concerned about the spread of germs via the air they breathe indoors, in a public venue, than before the pandemic; 74% of respondents say they would now like reassurance that the surfaces they are touching in a public venue are disinfected regularly. The survey also reveals a new benchmark in hygiene expectations and that many of the practices adopted by people to keep themselves and others safe have become second nature and are likely to remain.

The global pattern shows that people wash their hands more now (66%) to protect themselves from common viruses than they did before Covid-19 and that they’re likely to do this more in future (66%). This increased expectation of good hygiene practices will continue to impact the way we live our lives and the way we work.

Other key findings include:

  • 71% agree that they are now more fearful of the spread of germs via the surfaces they touch than before the pandemic;
  • 70% of people surveyed have higher hygiene expectations of themselves;
  • 74% said that they are now more concerned that other people’s poor hand hygiene could put their health at risk; and
  • 74% responded that they are now more aware of germ hotspots.

Businesses that embrace this shift and implement integrated hygiene strategies – not only for hand hygiene but for surfaces and clean air as well – will be better placed to protect the health and safety of staff and customers, keeping them reassured and giving them the confidence to return to work.

Amanda Jackson, global head of category, hygiene and well-being at Rentokil Initial, commented on this paradigm shift in expectations. “Regardless of where we live and work, the implications of the increased awareness of and appreciation for hygiene will have a ripple effect on our society for the coming decades.

“From avoiding frequently touched surfaces to concerns about poor indoor air quality, the research shows that people believe hygiene must be at the forefront of decisions made by organisations and businesses across the globe.

“Good hygiene practices will continue to be essential to living a more comfortable, productive and healthier life. Results from our survey show that 71% of people are concerned about whether a venue has adequate measures in place to stop the spread of germs. An integrated approach to hygiene can help put their minds at rest and keep them safe.”

To download the full report, visit:

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