Thousands of UK families ‘can’t afford toothpaste, soap or shampoo for kids’

New statistics reveal the scale of hygiene poverty in the UK and the effect this is having on children, in a Boots-commissioned survey of 500 schoolteachers, many of whom say the issue is getting worse.

Millions of kids will be heading back to school in September, and this can be a stressful, if exciting moment in their lives – and making sure they have access to hygiene products can only have a positive effect on their self-esteem, confidence and happiness.

Some 69 per cent of the teachers who took part in the research agreed that hygiene poverty is a reality in their school, and the same proportion said that the issue has got worse since the start of the Covid pandemic.

The teachers reported a range of issues from unwashed hair and PE kit to unbrushed teeth. Many of them said that they have had to send a child home or intervene in some other way to try to help. For example, they’ve lent (35 per cent) or bought (42 per cent) products for pupils, or referred families to food banks that can provide toiletries.

The impact of hygiene poverty on children can be considerable. A lack of access to the basics makes keeping clean a challenge. This may lead to stigma, ostracisation and bullying in and out of school, all of which can have serious long-term effects on mental health.

That’s why Boots and The Hygiene Bank have been working together on a campaign to start a wider conversation about those who are living in hygiene poverty and how we can all help.

69% agree that hygiene poverty is/has been a problem in their school

69% say it’s got worse since the Covid pandemic began

69% say they’ve personally observed poor hygiene as a result of hygiene poverty

66% say they have observed bullying of a pupil with poor hygiene

Being clean shouldn’t be a privilege – but when the choice comes down to paying the rent, heating the house or putting food on the table, it’s easy to see how there’s no money left for deodorant, period products or toothpaste.

Millions of children in the UK are struggling to access essential hygiene products. Help us ensure they go back to school clean.

Boots and The Hygiene Bank are working together to tackle hygiene poverty, providing much needed hygiene and personal care products to people living in poverty.

Boots has over 400 donation points in its stores across the UK and has donated more than 620,000 items – from toothpaste to shower gel, soap to shampoo – that have been distributed to hundreds of communities and charities across the UK in the past year.

When you donate in store at a Boots donation point, Boots also donates products to The Hygiene Bank. You can also donate through Boots.com by buying an e-voucher and 100% of your donation will go to The Hygiene Bank.

Lizzy Hall, who founded The Hygiene Bank in 2018, says its work has never been more vital: “We have seen demand for our services increase. Yet we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what’s needed, given that 14.5 million people were already living in poverty pre-pandemic.

“Feeling clean is something many of us take for granted if you’ve never had to worry about whether you can afford deodorant or body wash.” “