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Why Hygiene?

A question we are frequently asked is, why hygiene?

This week we are discussing why hygiene is our mission, why there’s a necessity for greater hygiene and sanitation resources within our communities, and how we can advocate for the unhoused members of our communities.

Alleviating hygiene hardships associated with people experiencing homelessness is our mission statement. It’s how we describe what we do at Community Suds, it’s our WHY. Access to hygiene and sanitation resources is deeply rooted in what we do because we believe it’s a basic human right. Social status, or income should not determine if a human being is able to clean and care for themselves. When people are able practice consistent hygiene care it restores dignity, renews hope, and creates an environment for people to live well.

Not only is hygiene important from a humane perspective, it’s also directly connected to the physical and mental well-being of a person. According to the National Library of Medicine, reduced hygiene may “exacerbate chronic diseases, such as HIV or diabetes, by posing barriers to treatment adherence.” People experiencing homelessness are also more likely to suffer from reoccurring infections, especially on the skin when they are not able to practice adequate hygiene routines. Personal hygiene also takes its toll mentally. Hygiene is a major contributor towards mental health for people experiencing homelessness. Research has shown, “self-care behaviors, including good hygiene, are critically important for individuals navigating homelessness. People identified ‘taking a shower after several days without one’ as being extremely important to them.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a global discussion on the importance of hygiene towards overall health and wellbeing. Every community experienced a drastic demand for supplies and resources that promoted hygiene health. People experiencing homelessness where the amongst the most vulnerable during the height of the pandemic. We did see a substantial effort towards increasing hygiene resources for people in need from both the state and local levels during throughout the pandemic. Resources like, pop up hand washing stations and showers were developed, public drinking fountains and fire hydrants were set up near encampments, and distribution of hygiene supplies increased. Unfortunately, as we head towards the end of this pandemic, resources are being pulled and people experiencing homelessness need continued access to sanitation and hygiene support.

How can you help?

Advocating for hygiene and sanitation access for people experiencing homelessness can take many different forms. Supporting organizations like Community Suds who provide hygiene support and recourses for people, helps address the immediate need for hygiene care. This work is very important but there also needs to be support for the implantation of a permanent solutions as well. “Participatory processes can enhance policy change efforts by adding important community knowledge, perspective and accountability to problem..." - The Network for Public Health Law

When we come together for the greater good of everyone in our community, we are able to make great strides towards creating a world where everyone has the ability to live well.

Together we are... ending homelessness one load at a time.


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