What Is Hygiene Poverty?

Discover what it is and how YOU can help…

Hygiene poverty is not being able to afford many of the everyday hygiene and personal grooming products most of us take for granted. Hygiene poverty looks like this:

Sadly, over one third of people living in the UK and over half of 18–24-year-olds have had to go without hygiene or grooming essentials or cut down on them due to lack of funds. (Source: In Kind Direct, 2017)​

Hygiene poverty can be shaming, humiliating and excluding, and can result in social isolation. It can lead to a lack of confidence and can negatively affect good health and mental well-being, which can impact early childhood development, learning, employability and social interaction.

What Is The Hygiene Bank?

The Hygiene Bank are a fabulous organisation who believe that basic hygiene is not a privilege and, that one day, everyone living in the UK will have access to essential hygiene products. They collect donations of new, unused, in-date personal care and household cleaning essentials which they then drop off to multiple Hygiene Bank locations across the UK. Read more about our fantastic friends at The Hygiene Bank here.

These products are then boxed up and sent out to the people who need them, such as 16-year-old Adam who lived in supported housing with other young adults…


Adam struggled to afford the basics, including hygiene products. Every time we met, I noticed he was not able to keep clean and it was affecting his self-esteem. As his Key Worker, I knew he was going to school 18% of the time, and most of his friends were online. When we meet up, he rarely looked me in the eye and was not interested in much conversation. I felt not being able to keep clean was affecting his confidence and it was important he had access to hygiene products, so I began to search online for charities who provide personal care items and came across The Hygiene Bank. This was in the summer of 2020. The local project very quickly provided essentials I was able to turnaround and give to Adam without much fanfare as he had not requested them in the first place. 

The next time I saw Adam, I barely recognised him. The transformation was immediate from his appearance to his attendance in school rising to 100% to hearing of new friends he met up with in person. He did so well in school he went onto university, and I am happy to report is doing really well.

The Hygiene Bank is a great resource for our young people, it allows them to be able to spruce themselves up to be spick and span at a time when money is tight and toiletries are financially out of their reach. To be able to feel clean and fresh is a nice thing and it is something that is expected of people.

From an Advisor’s perspective, it can be a difficult subject to discuss with our young people and simply having the resource available makes things easier for us in our work.

*This statement is from a Key Worker we support. The names have been changed or excluded to protect the subject’s identity.

Three Ways To Help!

Keen to get involved? You can:

  1. National Hygiene Week is from the 5th – 11th of July. This year they are asking everyone to ‘Look Up’ and help tackle hygiene poverty. In the lead up and throughout the week they are highlighting the power of community as a force for good. Whether you’ve been a part of their community for some time or are interested in joining their fight against hygiene poverty there are many ways for everyone to get involved.

Click here to learn more and get involved.

Pic credit: Kate Darkins Photography

  • If you’re aged 18 or over, you can volunteer to help at your nearest Hygiene Bank – or set up a new Hygiene Bank if your area doesn’t have one! Find more details here.
  • Donate! Text BASICS to 70085 plus the amount you’d like to donate. Every donation makes a difference. Or you can make a regular monthly donation. Click here to find out more about donating to The Hygiene Bank.

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