Is There Such a Thing as Too Clean?

washing hands

Some people are germaphobe clean freaks and some are slobs. Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health is advocating for lessons in classrooms on good hygiene to clear up any confusion someone might be suffering from.

Dr. Theresa Koehler, PhD, is the chair of microbiology and molecular genetics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. She says apply a healthy dose of common sense.

“It’s true than you cannot be too clean,” she says, but suggests there is a difference between basic hygiene and frantically avoiding germs in everyday life. “We really don’t need to be fearful about the environment to the extent that it affects our daily lives.”

She says important hygiene is keeping your body clean and washing your hands frequently, especially in certain circumstances. “Before and after preparing food and eating food, using the restroom, changing a diaper, interacting with sick people, being around someone coughing or sneezing,” Dr. Koehler lists.

But she says there are more good germs around than bad ones, and a fixation with eliminating germs from your environment, especially outdoors, isn’t necessary. “In terms of just getting out in the world, and having your kids play in the proverbial dirt, we don’t need to be fearful in those situations.”

The British recommend good hygiene in the home and more time spent outside of it, as does Dr. Koehler.

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