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March 2020

2020 and beyond: Hygiene trends of the future

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Technology and Trends

Over the lifespan of our Initial Insights page we have - a few times - tried to determine what the hygiene trends of the future might be, now we are taking a look at trends beyond 2020. 

In 2017 we looked at some of the coolest hygiene apps, in 2018 we discussed technological hygiene trends that might be coming our way in the not so distant future, and then in 2019 we investigated bio-enzymes and the very real shift away from harsh chemicals and towards biological products, including our very own, designed to be kind Signature bio-enzyme soap.

So what could be coming our way as we enter the roaring 20’s (for the second time) or 20 Plenty as some are calling it. 

Increased focus on hand hygiene in light of the COVID-19 pandemic: 

It may not be new, or especially interesting from a technology perspective, but good handwashing practices are still the number one way to protect oneself from COVID-19 and many other potentially fatal diseases, such as Ebola.  In fact, the Rwandan Ministry of Health guidelines on Ebola prevention involve mass hand washing in public places, and are aimed at keeping Rwanda Ebola-free following the Ebola outbreak in neighbouring DR. Congo in 2018.

With COVID-19 firmly at the top of everyone’s minds right now, there is no doubt that the role of handwashing in preventing illness is going to remain at the forefront of hygiene conversations for a long time. Every communication from the World Health Organisation regarding COVID-19 has hand washing front and centre.

Reducing risk of Coronavirus
Perhaps the Wuhan shake will overtake the fist bump as the greeting of the future?

Wuhan shake


More Connected Bathroom Technology:

We’ve talked about connected technology in the bathroom before, but I predict that as apps and smartphones continue to proliferate we’ll see more and more of this sort of technology entering the hygiene sector. Here are just a few  technology trends that could be coming our way soon:

  • Self cleaning toilets that also monitor toilet paper usage and lock themselves up at night have opened in the North Hollywood Recreation Centre in the US. The toilets are accessed when a user waves their hand near the entry button of one of the unisex cubicles. Once inside, a voice warns the occupant that they only have 10 minutes to complete their business. Aimed at reducing maintenance costs, the toilets also have automated toilet paper dispensers that give out a predetermined amount of paper to each user. Soap dispensers, taps and hand dryers are also all hands-free.

    In Singapore, self-cleaning toilet cubicles are being trialed at hawker centres as part of the push to drive innovation and improve productivity.  The project involves retrofitting existing cubicles with features to automatically clean the toilet bowl, walls and floor at scheduled intervals. A mechanism will be able to open and close the toilet bowl lid on its own, rinse the toilet bowl and seat, as well as blow-dry the seat. Cleaning agent and water will be sprayed to wash the cubicle wall, and the floor will be flushed with pressurised water to push any soil or rubbish to the floor trap. 

  • Smart-tech in the bathroom: Hygiene brands like Bic and Charmin want to start collecting data on our bathroom habits. They claim that this will give users of their products more personalized personal time, whilst at the same time giving these companies more information to build their next iteration of devices.  And with Kohler’s smart toilet - which  promises a ‘fully-immersive experience” including built-in speakers, ambient lighting, and Amazon Alexa support - you may never need to go anywhere else in your house!

  • Technology to reduce consumption: Water, energy and paper are all things that need to be reduced to achieve a more sustainable bathroom, because they are often used far too liberally. I’m certain we will see more and more sensor technology entering the bathroom in order to control wastage. We already have automatic stop taps and metered dosage soap dispensers, but I’m certain we are going to see more and more bathrooms turn to completely waterless solutions and sheet-by-sheet toilet paper dispensers to try and reduce wastage even further. 

Continued trend towards “natural” and environmentally friendly solutions:

And in line with the move towards reducing wastage, I also believe we will see an increase in hygiene solutions that are environmentally friendly.  Initial has already started, with our move away from harsh chemicals and towards enzyme based cleaning products, but what else can we look out for? Here are just a few of the more alternative trends to which I think we should pay attention: 

  • Waste as a sustainable source of alternative energy: phs Group, in partnership with recycling, renewable energy and waste management specialist Viridor, is now able to divert customer waste from landfill into power generation. As part of phs' sustainable waste management strategy, the new multi-million, five-year national contract will see phs-managed non-recyclable waste transformed into energy at Viridor plants across the UK. phs collects around 65,000 tonnes of hygiene waste from customers annually, including nappies and sanitary products. If disposed of within landfill this waste can take more than 500 years to decompose. With the new partnership in place managed waste will be treated at Viridor's energy recovery facilities (ERFs), creating low carbon electricity which is sent to the National Grid. The company aims to divert up to 95 per cent of its customers' hygiene waste away from landfill. 

  • Cannabis as a treatment for MRSA: According to the US Centers for Disease Control, MRSA is usually spread by direct contact with an infected wound or from contaminated hands. The condition can be difficult to treat because it has become resistant to antibiotics such as methicillin, penicillin and oxacillin. Good hand hygiene among healthcare providers is therefore strongly advised.

    Recently, Indian researchers have discovered cannabis leaves to have an antibacterial effect against MRSA. Results of the study were published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine. Previous studies had found cannabis to have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that were capable of slowing or even stopping the spread of MRSA under controlled conditions. 

Whatever the future holds for the hygiene sector, you can rest assured that Initial will be at the forefront, testing new technologies and concepts to ensure that you are always in safe hands.  

For more helpful information on all things related to hygiene, view our resources or subscribe to our blog.

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Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

I joined Rentokil Initial South Africa in 2004 as the PA to the MD, and after 6 months maternity leave I re-joined the Company in 2009 as the Marketing Co-ordinator for Rentokil. I'm now the Marketing Communication Manager for Rentokil Initial. I'm still terrified of cockroaches (Americana's only!) but the rest of the creepy crawlies we deal with don't really bug me (see what I did there?), so I guess I'm in the right industry! I am passionate about what we do here at Rentokil Initial and also write for our Hygiene Blog, which can be found at www.initial.co.za. Life outside of Rentokil mostly revolves around my daughter, who has just turned eleven, and my husband (who is a bit older). I love living in Cape Town and wouldn't trade living here for anywhere else in the world.

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