Hygiene is a series of practices performed to preserve health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Hygiene refers to conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases.” Personal hygiene refers to maintaining the body’s cleanliness.
Many people equate hygiene with ‘cleanliness,’ but hygiene is a broad term. It includes such personal habit choices as how frequently to take a shower or bathe, wash hands, trim fingernails, and change and wash clothes. It also includes attention to keeping surfaces in the home and workplace, including bathroom facilities, clean and pathogen-free.
Some regular hygiene practices may be considered good habits by a society, while the neglect of hygiene can be considered disgusting, disrespectful, or threatening.
Hygiene is a concept related to cleanliness, health and medicine. It is as well related to personal and professional care practices. In medicine and everyday life settings, hygiene practices are employed as preventative measures to reduce the incidence and spreading of disease.
Hygiene practices vary, and what is considered acceptable in one culture might not be acceptable in another.
In the manufacturing of food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and other products, good hygiene is a critical component of quality assurance.
The terms cleanliness and hygiene are often used interchangeably, which can cause confusion. In general, hygiene refers to practices that prevent spread of disease-causing organisms. Cleaning processes (e.g., handwashing) remove infectious microbes as well as dirt and soil, and are thus often the means to achieve hygiene.
Other uses of the term appear in phrases including body hygiene, personal hygiene, sleep hygiene, mental hygiene, dental hygiene, and occupational hygiene, used in connection with public health. Hygiene is also the name of a branch of science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health.