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  • Personal hygiene now a luxury item as costs bite

    Author: AAP

Millions of Australians are living in hygiene poverty as the soaring cost of living leaves many unable to afford soap, shampoo and deodorant, a survey has found.

More than four million people, or more than one in seven, recently skipped buying essential personal hygiene or household cleaning products, according to charity Good360 Australia.

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"It's heartbreaking to see families having to choose between heating, eating or keeping clean," managing director Alison Covington said on Tuesday.

"Hygiene poverty has profound implications, not just for physical health, but also for mental and emotional wellbeing."

Hygiene poverty is going without one or more hygiene products because you cannot afford them.


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Ms Covington said it was often a precursor to food and fuel poverty, because people were likely to give up products like shampoo before they went without food.

"Hygiene poverty is a hidden issue because it can be embarrassing to talk about," she said.

"It can mean avoiding a job interview because of concerns over body odour, missing work or school due to a lack of period products, or students being bullied because of hygiene issues."

The survey of a thousand people also found that for one-in-ten respondents, the inability to afford personal hygiene or cleaning products had impacted their mental health.

A further 10 per cent said it had negatively affected their physical health and eight per cent of people polled said they avoided social events or missed work due to the impacts of hygiene poverty.

Women were more likely to be impacted by the issue, with 16 per cent of those surveyed saying they had skipped buying hygiene products because they could not afford them compared to 13 per cent of men.

"These are basic items that most of us take for granted but for many they are becoming unaffordable luxuries," Ms Covington said.

"In a country as wealthy as Australia, this shouldn't be happening - everyone deserves access to basic hygiene and cleaning essentials."

The research also found that one-in-five people were worried about not being able to afford hygiene and cleaning products in the future and 18 per cent were concerned about their family having access to the essential products they need to be healthy.

Good360 channels unsold consumer goods to charities and disadvantaged schools to help people in need.

The surge in demand for hygiene and cleaning products has outstripped its supply.


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