15 Basic Hygiene Routines Most People Fail To Do

We all know the basics of good hygiene: showering regularly, brushing our teeth twice a day, and washing our hands before eating.

But in the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to overlook some essential hygiene practices. These seemingly minor habits can significantly impact our overall health and well-being.

This article delves beyond the obvious and explores 15 hygiene routines that many people unintentionally neglect. Following these practices can keep you feeling fresh, confident, and promote better health.

1. Washing Your Hands Throughout the Day (It’s More Than Just Before Meals!)

We all know to wash our hands before eating and after using the restroom. However, frequent handwashing throughout the day is crucial to prevent the spread of germs.

Why it Matters:

Our hands come into contact with countless surfaces throughout the day, from doorknobs and light switches to elevator buttons and shopping cart handles.  These surfaces can harbor various germs, including bacteria and viruses. 

Touching your face with unwashed hands can easily transfer these germs to your eyes, nose, or mouth, potentially leading to illness.

How to Do It Right: 

Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.  Lather your hands for at least 20 seconds, ensuring you get between your fingers, under your nails, and around your wrists.  Rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry your hands with a clean towel or air dryer.

Handy Tip:  

Carry hand sanitizer with you for situations when soap and water aren’t readily available. Opt for an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content for optimal effectiveness.

2. Don’t Forget Your Phone: A Germ Magnet in Your Pocket

Our phones are practically extensions of ourselves these days. We use them constantly, often holding them close to our faces.  Unfortunately, these handy devices can become breeding grounds for bacteria.

Why it Matters:  

Studies have shown that cell phones can harbor a variety of germs, including E. coli, staphylococcus aureus (staph), and even fecal matter.  These germs can easily transfer to your face when you hold your phone to your ear or cheek during calls.

How to Clean Your Phone:  

Regularly disinfect your phone with a disinfectant wipe or solution specifically designed for electronics.  Turn off your phone and unplug it before cleaning.  Avoid using harsh chemicals or submerging your phone in water.

3. Wash Your Face More Than Once a Day (Especially After Sweating)

Washing your face once a day is a good starting point, but depending on your activity level and skin type, it might not be enough.

Why it Matters:  

Throughout the day, your face accumulates dirt, oil, sweat, and dead skin cells.  Leaving this buildup on your skin can clog pores, leading to breakouts and irritation.  Sweat can also harbor bacteria that contribute to body odor.

How to Do It Right:  

Wash your face in the morning and evening, and consider an additional cleanse after a workout or any activity that causes sweating.  Use lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type. 

Gently massage the cleanser onto your face, paying attention to your hairline, nose, and around your mouth. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and pat your face dry with a clean towel.

4. Don’t Neglect Your Ears: Beyond Cotton Swabs

Ears are essential for hearing and balance, but they often get neglected in our daily hygiene routines.

Why it Matters:  

Earwax plays a crucial role in protecting the ear canal from dust, debris, and insects.  However, excessive earwax buildup can lead to hearing problems and discomfort.

How to Do It Right:   

Avoid using cotton swabs to clean your ears.  Swabs can actually push earwax deeper into the ear canal, potentially causing impaction.  Instead, use a washcloth dipped in warm water to gently clean the outer ear. Allow water to run down the ear canal during showering for a natural cleansing effect.

5.  Brush Your Tongue for Fresher Breath and Improved Hygiene

Brushing your teeth is essential for oral hygiene, but neglecting your tongue creates a breeding ground for bacteria that contribute to bad breath.

Why it Matters:  

The surface of your tongue has tiny bumps called papillae, which can trap food particles and bacteria.  Over time, this buildup can contribute to bad breath, also known as halitosis.

How to Do It Right:  

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a tongue scraper to gently brush your tongue after brushing your teeth.  Brush the surface of your tongue back and forth, removing any white film or debris. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.

6. Floss Regularly: Reaching Beyond the Brush Can’t Be Missed

Brushing your teeth is crucial, but it can’t reach all the nooks and crannies between your teeth.  That’s where flossing comes in.

Why it Matters:  

Food particles and plaque can build up between your teeth, leading to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.  Flossing removes these particles and plaque, promoting better oral health.

How to Do It Right:  

Use around 18 inches of dental floss.  Wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers, leaving a short section in between.  Gently guide the floss between your teeth, using a sawing motion to remove plaque and debris.  Repeat for each space between your teeth.

7.  Shower After Sweating: Keep Your Body Fresh and Healthy

Exercise is fantastic for your overall health, but sweat can harbor bacteria and lead to body odor.

Why it Matters:  

Sweat itself doesn’t smell.  However, when bacteria on your skin break down sweat, they produce compounds that have a distinct odor.  Leaving sweat on your skin allows these bacteria to thrive and contribute to unpleasant body odor.

How to Do It Right: 

Shower after sweaty workouts or any activity that causes significant perspiration.  Use lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser to wash your entire body, paying particular attention to areas prone to sweat like your armpits, groin, and feet.

8. Don’t Forget Your Feet: Beyond the Daily Soak

Our feet work hard throughout the day, carrying us wherever we go.  Proper foot hygiene is essential for comfort and health.

Why it Matters:  

Our feet sweat a lot, creating a moist environment ideal for fungal growth.  Athlete’s foot, a fungal infection, can cause itching, burning, and irritation.  Additionally, neglecting foot hygiene can lead to unpleasant foot odor.

How to Do It Right:  

Wash your feet daily with soap and warm water, paying special attention to the spaces between your toes.  Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes, to prevent fungal growth.  Consider applying a gentle moisturizer to keep your feet soft and prevent cracking.

9. Wash Your Hair Regularly (But Not Too Often!)

Washing your hair removes dirt, oil, and styling products, keeping your scalp healthy and your hair looking its best.

Why it Matters:  

The frequency of hair washing depends on your hair type and activity level.  Oily hair might need daily washing, while dry hair might benefit from washing every other day or even less frequently.  Washing your hair too often can strip away natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle.

How to Do It Right:  

Focus on cleansing your scalp where most oil and dirt accumulate.  Use lukewarm water and a gentle shampoo suitable for your hair type. 

Condition your hair after shampooing, focusing on the ends to prevent dryness and split ends.  Rinse thoroughly with cool water to lock in moisture and shine.

10.  Clean Your Hairbrush and Combs Regularly:  Banish Built-up Debris

Hairbrushes and combs can accumulate hair, dead skin cells, and styling products over time.

Why it Matters:  

Using dirty hairbrushes and combs can transfer bacteria and product buildup back onto your scalp and hair, potentially contributing to irritation and scalp problems.

How to Do It Right:  

After each use, remove loose hair from your brush or comb.  Once a week, clean your hairbrush or comb with warm, soapy water.  Soak them for a few minutes to loosen any buildup, then rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry completely.

11.  Don’t Share Personal Care Items:  Hygiene is Individual

Sharing personal care items like razors, towels, and makeup brushes can spread bacteria and germs.

Why it Matters:  

Personal care items come into contact with different parts of our bodies, potentially harboring bacteria or fungus.  Sharing these items can increase the risk of transmitting infections or skin conditions.

How to Do It Right:  

Avoid sharing personal care items like razors, towels, toothbrushes, makeup brushes, and nail clippers.  Have your own set of these items and avoid using other people’s belongings.

12. Wash Your Bedding Regularly:  A Haven for Dust Mites and Allergens

Our beds are havens for rest and relaxation, but they can also harbor dust mites, dead skin cells, and allergens.

Why it Matters:  

Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in warm, humid environments.  They feed on dead skin cells, and their waste products can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms.  Dead skin cells and allergens like pollen can also accumulate on bedding, further contributing to allergy and respiratory problems.

How to Do It Right:  

Wash your sheets, pillowcases, and duvet cover in hot water (at least 130°F or 54°C) once a week, especially if you suffer from allergies. 

Hot water helps kill dust mites and their eggs.  Wash your blankets and comforters according to the care instructions on the label, typically every few weeks or months.

13.  Clean Your Pillow Regularly:  More Than Just Fluffing

Pillows absorb sweat, dead skin cells, and dust mites over time.  Regular cleaning helps maintain hygiene and prevent allergies.

Why it Matters:  

Similar to bedding, pillows can harbor allergens and dust mites, potentially triggering allergy and asthma symptoms.  Additionally, sweat and dead skin cells can create an unpleasant odor and attract bacteria.

How to Do It Right:  

Most pillows can be washed in a washing machine.  Check the care instructions on the label and wash your pillows in hot water (at least 130°F or 54°C) every few months. 

Sun-drying your pillows after washing can also help kill dust mites.  If your pillows cannot be washed, consider replacing them every few years.

14.  Don’t Forget Your Laundry Basket:  A Breeding Ground for Germs

Laundry baskets might seem harmless, but they can become breeding grounds for bacteria and unpleasant odors if not cleaned regularly.

Why it Matters:  

Dirty clothes harbor sweat, dead skin cells, and sometimes even food particles.  Leaving them in a damp laundry basket allows bacteria to thrive, potentially transferring back onto clean clothes.

How to Do It Right:  

Empty your laundry basket regularly and avoid letting dirty clothes pile up for days.  Wash your laundry basket itself periodically.  Linen or mesh laundry baskets allow for better air circulation, preventing moisture buildup and discouraging bacterial growth.

15.  Clean Your Electronics Regularly:  Germs Love Screens Too

Our electronic devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones are constantly touched throughout the day, accumulating germs and bacteria.

Why it Matters:  

Similar to your phone, other electronic devices can harbor a variety of germs you come into contact with throughout the day.  Touching your face with uncleaned hands after using your devices can transfer these germs, potentially leading to illness.

How to Do It Right:  

Turn off and unplug your electronic devices before cleaning.  Use a microfiber cloth dampened with a disinfectant wipe or solution specifically designed for electronics.  Avoid using harsh chemicals or submerging your devices in water.  Regularly clean keyboards and mice, especially if shared with others.


By incorporating these 15 essential hygiene practices into your daily routine, you can significantly improve your overall well-being. 

Remember, good hygiene isn’t just about looking and feeling fresh; it’s about promoting better health and preventing the spread of germs.  For personalized advice tailored to your specific needs, consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist.

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