Poor personal hygiene can destroy your personal brand. People will avoid working with you. Instead, follow the 4 workplace personal hygiene rules, stay neat, and enjoy a spotless personal brand. 

What workplace personal hygiene etiquette is

Workplace personal hygiene etiquette is the set of rules to be neat and present yourself appropriately at work. Such rules include:

  • The key personal hygiene rules.
  • The hygiene rules to apply in any work area.
  • How to respect your coworkers.
  • The bad hygiene habits to avoid at work.

As an employee, follow workplace personal hygiene etiquette to respect hygiene rules, politely deal with your coworkers, and avoid any embarrassments.

As a manager or employer, promote workplace personal hygiene etiquette in your team to ensure good hygiene at work and avoid conflicts between team members.

Workplace personal hygiene rules for employees

Workplace personal hygiene etiquette rules

personal hygiene daily routine before work

1) Follow a personal hygiene daily routine

The basis of workplace personal hygiene starts with a daily routine. Follow a strict hygiene routine every day before going to work. If you fail your personal hygiene routine, others might avoid being around you.

  • Shower or bath every morning. 
  • Apply deodorant to your armpits and breast. 
  • Do not apply excessive deodorant or perfume. 
  • Wash your hair every 1 or 2 days. 
  • Wash with care the areas that will be exposed. Face. Hands. Wrists. Ears. 
  • Brush your teeth 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Stay well-groomed. 
  • Wear clean and neat clothes.
  • Change clothes every day. 

Be clean

Follow a personal hygiene routine every day before going to work. 

Shower or bath every morning. We all sweat in our sleep. A morning shower washes the night sweat away. If you cannot shower or bath, wash the areas with a higher risk of a bad smell. Armpits. Neck. Lower breast. Crotch. Feet. Use abundant soap. 

Apply deodorant to your armpits and breast. You can use perfume. However, do not apply excessive deodorant or perfume. Furthermore, apply deodorant or perfume only after washing yourself.

Wash your hair every day. Alternatively, every other day works too. Use enough shampoo to wash your hair thoroughly. Do not stay 3 full days without washing your hair.  

Wash with special care the body areas that are exposed. Face and neck. Hands and wrists. Ears and the area behind them. Never skip one of these areas, you should wash them daily. Use abundant soap. 

Brush your teeth and use toothpaste. Wash your mouth with mouthwash to freshen your breath. To avoid bad breath during the day, drink often. Chew gum or eat fruit. 


Men should shave daily or every other day. Trim your beard or mustache at least every 2 or 3 days. Keep under control and trim hair that may overgrow in your ears, nose, or eyebrows.

Refresh your haircut at least once monthly. In any case, do not stay without a haircut for more than 2 months.

Wear clean clothes

Change clean clothes every day. 

You can reuse some clothes. T-shirts. Trousers. Sweaters. Jackets. Ties. However, never use the same clothes on two consecutive days. Smell your clothes before wearing them. If they smell, do not wear them. 

Do not exceed in reusing clothes. Never reuse lingerie or underwear. Underpants. Boxers. Socks. Bras. Use them for one day max. Then wash them before wearing them again.

Wear shirts only for one day, max two days. After one day, shirts get wrinkles and look untidy. Never wear a reused shirt to a meeting

How to keep your workplace desk tidy

2) Keep your workplace desk tidy

At the workplace, your desk is like your shopping window. It shows who you are. An untidy desk shows poor workplace personal hygiene. Pay extra care if your desk is located in an open space office, where everyone can see it.

  • Clear your desk every day, before leaving.
  • Leave as much free surface as possible. 
  • Group documents together. 
  • Group stationery. 
  • Remove used cups, mugs, or glasses.
  • Do not leave personal belongings on your desk. 
  • Throw junk away. 
  • Do not eat at your desk. 
  • If anything drips on your desk, wipe it immediately. 

Clear your desk before leaving

Every evening, before leaving, clear your desk. Leave as much free surface as possible. It will be easier for the janitors to clean your desk up.

Group documents together. Use binders and folders to keep them organized. Group stationery. Place them in a small container. 

Remove used cups, mugs, or glasses. Bring them to the kitchen. Throw your trash away. 

Do not leave personal belongings or business devices on your desk. Bring them home. Alternatively, place them in a locker, if one is available for your personal use. 

Keep your desk clean during the day

Do not eat at your desk. You risk disturbing your coworkers or making a mess. Similarly, you risk spilling food or beverage on the desk and soiling it. Furthermore, if you eat at your desk, you may touch your desk, laptops, or documents with soiled or oily fingers. 

Eat only in a dedicated area, if one is available. Otherwise, eat outside. If you really must eat at your desk, clean up afterward. Clear any plates or glasses. Wipe the desk. Wash your hands. If you spill anything on your desk, wipe it immediately. 

Do not place any personal belongings on your desk. If an item is not needed for your work, it does not belong on your desk. Such as coats, umbrellas, handbags, hats, or scarves.

3) Do not be messy in the common areas

Follow the general etiquette rules in the common areas. Restroom. Kitchen. Lounge. Lobby. Elevator.

Do not bring food to areas that are not meant for eating. Avoid speaking at a loud volume in common areas. Do not leave personal belongings in common areas.

Clean up after yourself. When you leave the restroom or the kitchen, make sure that everything is in the same condition as you found it. Ideally, your colleagues should be unable to tell you were there.

workplace personal hygiene bad habits

4) Avoid personal hygiene bad habits

Personal hygiene bad habits can ruin your personal brand. Do your best to avoid them.   

Avoid making sounds. Such as burping, sniffling, or sneezing in a loud manner. If you really cannot avoid them, go to the restroom.

Never pass gas. If you really have to fart, go to the restroom or outside. 

Do not place your fingers where they do not belong. Ears. Nose. Mouth. Do not pick your teeth in public. 

Do not touch your intimate areas. Avoid putting your hands under your clothes. Do not scratch an itch. If you cannot resist, go to the restroom.

Etiquette for dealing with workplace personal hygiene issues 

If an employee has workplace personal hygiene issues, act with tact. You want to get the message through. However, you must avoid embarrassing the person.

A subtle way is to share general recommendations. Ask your manager, or human resources, to share a resource such as this webpage. Share it team-wide or company-wide. The person should take the hint. 

Another way is to mention generic complaints. Mention that some employees complained about generic, widespread workplace personal hygiene issues. This justifies you sharing these personal hygiene rules and following up with each employee individually.

Workplace hygiene bad habits

Workplace personal hygiene etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

office personal hygiene etiquette mistakes

Avoid the worst workplace personal hygiene etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Neglecting your personal hygiene daily routine.
  • 9/10. Having bad personal hygiene habits.
  • 8/10. Keeping your desk untidy.
  • 8/10. Being messy in the common areas.