Posted on September 30, 2020 at 4:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Cleanliness and hygiene have certainly captured the world’s attention in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, says physician and health reporter James Hamblin, they’re not one and the same.

Hamblin, whose essay on no longer showering went viral a few years ago, remains in full support of hygienic practices — those that work to prevent disease, either in yourself or others.

But cleansing habits? Those are cultural or personal preferences, Hamblin says, and could actually be detrimental to our bodies and the environment.

He explains more about the distinction between hygiene and cleanliness in an interview about his new(ish) book, Clean: The New Science of Skin.

The book isn’t a call for all of us to abandon showering, but rather an overview of how we’re beginning to understand more about the tiny living things that comprise what we call the skin microbiome.

Learn more about Hamblin's book and the question he’s most tired of on NPR.

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