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February 2021

5 Outdated hygiene laws that need to be updated

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Cleanliness and Hygiene

Our latest blog posts takes a fun look at some outdated hygiene laws that definitely need to be re-written.The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a proliferation of rules and regulations governing hygiene, both personal hygiene (hand hygiene especially) and the hygiene requirements for all shared spaces from offices to malls, cinemas to casinos. Whilst we may chafe under these restrictions at times, there's no doubt that they are for our own good, and the wellbeing of the greater good.

But not all rules and regulations are made equal! In the quest of some light relief, we went digging and found some older rules and regulations related to hygiene that we think need a definite rethink! So here they are - in no particular order of oddness - our top 5 STRANGE hygiene laws that need to be updated: 

1. No shaking your carpets or rugs in the street:

Britain has some pretty bizarre medieval laws which have never been repealed, and therefore (technically ) still stand today. One of the many obscure decrees which still stand in Britain today hails from the relatively recent 1830s, in which it was mandated that is against the law to beat or shake any carpet or rug in the street. You can shake your doormat, however, but only before 8am in the morning. Get around this by signing up for serviced floor mats with Initial. We’ll clean your mats for you so that you don’t have to worry about running foul of this strange decree. 

2. No spreading the plague!

Another forbidden act in the UK which would once have been perfectly rational includes riding a bus in London while (knowingly) suffering from the plague.

Actually,  come to think of it, this one doesn’t sound so strange. We believe that anyone who is ill should stay home, to avoid putting colleagues, friends and acquaintances at risk. You can read all about the costs of absenteeism and presenteeism in one of our most popular blog posts.

3. No standing or flushing after 10pm in Switzerland:

The Swiss also have some pretty strange laws, including no urinating standing up after 10 pm. Strangely enough (not really) this only applies to men. Apparently, urinating standing up causes too much noise and can disrupt other citizens during their allocated sleeping times! 

You also can’t flush the toilet after 10 pm. The Swiss Homeowners’ Society allows landlords to make their own rules for tenants, but the Swiss renters’ law states that tenants must be mindful of their neighbours and other tenants. In many areas, this means flushing the toilet or running a bath after 10 p.m. is prohibited. Read our blog "To flush or not to flush?" for more on this pressing toilet hygiene question.

4. Sharing your toilet:

Scottish law is a hybrid system, combining parts of civil law and common law, and can be traced back to a number of different sources. Like Britain, there are a handful of laws that existed many years ago that, technically speaking, have not been repealed - and in some cases, weren’t even legally passed due to the common-law element of the Scottish system.

One of these is the “law” that obliges citizens to allow whoever knocks on their door to use their toilet.  On closer inspection though, it appears as though this ‘law’ was more of a tradition, or polite custom.  One can only hope that anyone using your bathroom and toilet leaves it in the same condition they found it! Download our loo laws posters for guidance on how to keep a shared bathroom hygienic.  

5. No bathing in winter:

In the good ol’ US of A federal laws are generally applicable in the same way across all state borders. However, under constitutional laws, states are allowed to create, implement, and enforce their own laws in addition to federal laws. This is because every U.S. state is also a sovereign entity in its own right and is granted the power to create laws and regulate them according to their needs. 

And as you can imagine this has created a situation in which many states have antiquated laws still on the books as well. for example, in Indiana, baths may not be taken between the months of October and March!  Please, no! We’d like to put forward a bill that personal hygiene must be maintained year-round, with special emphasis on hand hygiene!

6. And finally - a bonus - no suspicious Salmon handling!

This last one isn’t related to hygiene at all, but it’s just so odd that we had to add it. As recently as 1986, it has been illegal to 'handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances' in the UK- which leaves a lot of room for interpretation...

if you've enjoyed this light-hearted look at hygiene, subscribe to blog for more articles like this, as well as helpful hygiene tips and advice. 

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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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