At The Hygiene Bank we believe everyone deserves to feel clean; that one day everyone living in the UK will have access to essential hygiene products. But to make that vision a reality we needed to truly understand the problem, so we commissioned an independent study by YouGov to benchmark the incidence rate and the drivers of hygiene poverty so that we can shine a light on this hidden crisis.

This report is the first comprehensive, national, mixed methodology research study into the issue of hygiene poverty in the UK. It establishes not only the incidence rates and risk factors but provides a clear picture from those with lived experience about the impact of hygiene poverty on their daily lives and their futures.

Prevalence of hygiene poverty in the UK

Hygiene poverty was found to affect an estimated 3,150,000 adults in the UK (6% of the population).

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The impact on physical and mental health

Social isolation was identified as a significant impact of hygiene poverty, with many respondents reporting feelings of shame and anxiety, which often leads to isolation.

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Cycle of poverty

Hygiene poverty was identified as a barrier to employment and education, with many respondents avoiding job interviews, work or education, highlighting its potential to trap people in a cycle of poverty. In fact, one in eight (13%) said they have avoided going to a job interview

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Family stress

Hygiene poverty was continually reported to have negative implications for the dependents of those living in hygiene poverty. Three in five (62%) of those experiencing hygiene poverty with dependent children said that they have had to choose between buying hygiene products for themselves or their child(ren).

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Shame and stigma

Embarrassment prohibits half of those experiencing hygiene poverty from asking for help. Participants in the qualitative research reported accessing support as a ‘last resort’ or at the point of ‘desperation’.

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Get involved

With poverty rates rising and the cost-of-living crisis putting more and more pressure on households in the UK, it is vital that we expose this hidden crisis and campaign for real, meaningful change.

We need your help to make this hidden crisis a thing of the past.

Thank you to our sponsor

The Hygiene Bank would like to thank Boots UK for funding Hygiene Poverty 2022. The research was commissioned by The Hygiene Bank and conducted by YouGov.

“Boots has supported The Hygiene Bank’s important work throughout the UK for over two years. Our collaboration is rooted in the notion of community, health equity and the belief that everyone should have access to basics in life. Boots was founded on the belief that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare and hygiene essentials and it remains core to our ethos today.

Hygiene Poverty 2022 is a ground-breaking, independent and timely study into hygiene poverty. We hope it will encourage more people from all areas of industry and government to get involved and play their part in finding meaningful solutions to the issue of hygiene poverty in the UK.”

Lucy Reynolds, VP Communications and ESG, Boots

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