San Francisco has often been criticized for its dirty, unhygienic streets. Unfortunately, a recent survey suggests that low levels of hygiene are not only restricted to public spaces but are also rampant in the personal lives of the city's residents. The Greater Bay Area has found itself among the top 5 filthiest cities in the USA alongside Seattle-Tacoma, Denver, Washington D.C., and Pittsburgh, as CBS SF reported this weekend.

The Quality Logo Products poll asked individuals about their frequency of bathing, brushing their teeth, cleaning their homes, washing their hands after using the restroom, changing bed sheets and even how often they would change their underwear. The results are nothing less than revolting.

As per the data, 7.5% of the 2,732 individuals surveyed said that they only bathe every 4-5 days. Yet another repugnant finding was that 5.6% wear the same pair of underwear for 4 consecutive days or more. About 15% reported that they wash their bed sheets every 2 months.

Clearly, even in the age of health and medical awareness, the importance of personal hygiene and its effect on others around is underestimated in the Bay Area. There seems to be no conclusive reason why well-established residents don't follow some basic hygiene practices.

However, the reactions of people online gives insight. One individual cites finances as an excuse saying, "I think some of this may be due to not everyone owning a washer & dryer. It's a hassle and costly to go to a laundromat every week. Sometimes, I will wear an article of clothing a second time if it's still clean just so I can save those quarters."

Yet another individual explains weather as a reason for not showering frequently. In an online comment, he says "I think a lot of it comes down to the weather. In humid places like Houston or Florida you need to shower daily (some even shower more than once a day). Here in the Bay Area, you can go days without really sweating. Some people are probably pushing it too far, but it's not as if we are encountering smelly people in public everywhere."

While dermatologist opinions vary in regards to the frequency at which people should bathe, the average conclusion is that bathing every 2 days fights the bacteria, dirt, and body odor. However, there are no conflicting opinions when it comes to washing hands or cleansing the face. Hands are used most often during a day and the germs picked up find their way into the body through nose and mouth. Unarguably, hands should be washed multiple times every day which people in the SF Bay Area seem to neglect.  

People of the San Francisco Bay Area don't seem to be ignorant of these facts. Following Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco is reported to have the highest number of germophobes - people who are extremely cautious to evade any contact with germs. The reasons for this paranoia are quite obvious.

The extreme lack of personal hygiene spread germs and bacteria across the community which leads to everyone experiencing illnesses and flu frequently. A simple instance would be the number of germs you accumulate when you shake hands every day with several people. It's better to be a germophobe than underestimating the need to wash hands.