Singapore’s Hygiene Customs and Practices: A Tale of Multicultural Cleanliness

November 23, 2023

It is unsurprising that the cleanliness goals of a country like Singapore are admired by even the most developed societies, despite some debates over certain regulations. Most first-time visitors to this island city are struck by remarkable cleanliness of the country. They notice the lack of litter and the absence of overflowing garbage in the bins. So, they are left with the question— how does Singapore stay so clean?

The simple answer is that both the government and citizens of Singapore want to move forward together in this regard—cleanliness is more than just an aesthetic ideal here.  The New York Times has once described Singapore as a country “so clean that bubble gum is a controlled substance.” It also adds that “even a fail to flush a public toilet is regarded as a crime.”The 5.92 million Singaporeans live in arguably one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the world, and the refinement in hygiene customs and practices are congruent with much major progress in the island city, including social improvement and unparallel economic growth.

The Singapore Government's Role in Sculpting the Country’s Clean Image

It is interesting that while many Singaporeans casually dismiss the notion, by all means, the leaders of this country work very hard to project an image of a very clean nation while also putting efforts to make it greener through initiatives like A City in a Garden. According to a Singaporean academic and expert in public policy, Donald Low, “Singapore's clean reputation is something the government consciously sought to promote.” Practically speaking, achieving this level of cleanliness involved establishing efficient sewage systems, executing strategies to combat dengue and other illnesses, a ten-year effort to purify the heavily contaminated Singapore River, a country-wide initiative for planting trees, and converting traditional street food stalls into covered hawker centers.

The implementation of widespread public hygiene campaigns like SG Clean, Keep Singapore Clean, and Keep Clean, Singapore across the country was also essential, encouraging Singaporeans to actively participate. During the launch of the Keep Singapore Clean campaign in 1968, the then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew emphasised that maintaining community cleanliness is dependent on a population aware of its duties. He aimed to ignite a renewed sense of national identity in Singaporeans in his address, and called upon a collective and community-oriented ethos he considered crucial for realising the country's aspirations. It is quite wonderful to see that the Keep Clean, Singapore campaign, organised by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), is now an annual event against littering.

How Did the Standards of Cleanliness in Singapore Rose After the Pandemic?

The island city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been widely praised globally. The measures weren’t totally reactive— this means that Singapore was prepared for such a health crisis before it even began and they had already established advanced public hygiene infrastructure by keeping the measures for anticipation of potential problems in place rather than reacting to them after they occur. It worked for Singapore. Officers were trained in how to deal with the disinfection of infectious diseases even before COVID-19 hit the shores, as per Tai Ji Choong, the  Director of the Division of Public Cleanliness at Singapore's National Environment Agency. The pandemic then went on redefining the everyday life of Singaporeans like public hygiene, with the goal to make the new and higher standards the new normal, as per what Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources told the press in 2020. A video of Journalist Timothy Goh sharing on the new SG Clean Taskforce to take cleanliness and public hygiene to an improved level is interesting enough to listen to.

The National Environment Agency, with the launch of several programs, encourages better public hygiene customs and practices in Singapore. The first among these is the SG Clean campaign that sets its sights on raising the hygiene standards and nudge the public to come together and do their part in keeping the country clean. A key component of this campaign is the SG Clean quality mark— a hallmark of certification that shows an area’s adherence to superior cleanliness standards. It marks a series of sanitisation protocols that encompasses aspects like managerial supervision, cleaning techniques, and restroom upkeep. This mark is introduced in areas with significant footfall. It covers locations such as food courts, transit hubs, educational institutions, and retail complexes. Currently, over 14,000 establishments in Singapore proudly display this mark—  it signifies their dedication to protecting public health.

The second important initiative is the introduction of a new environmental sanitation policy passed by the NEA during 2021. This policy mandates that all public areas adhere to environmental cleanliness criteria established by the authorities, and it started in high-traffic or sensitive locations including food courts, eldercare, and childcare centres, majorly due to their heightened risk factors in these areas.

The third effort is a comprehensive revamp of public restrooms. Singapore's National Environment Agency emphasised that innovative toilet design is fundamental to enhancing the cleanliness of public restrooms. The agency started offering financial support for the modernisation of restroom facilities in older hawker centers and coffee shops. This endeavour is designed to encourage the integration of advanced technology, potentially boosting the efficiency of restroom maintenance. The NEA has also published a list of suggested disinfectants and advisory detailing the efficacy of various cleaning techniques and essential safety measures. In addition to offering precise instructions for sanitising areas exposed to the virus, personnel from the NEA's Department of Public Cleanliness made on-site visits to the affected locations to supervise the cleaning operations and offer expert advice.

How Do the Department of Public Cleanliness at Singapore’s NEA Use Tech for Cleanliness?

The NEA turning to technological solutions to maintain Singapore's cleanliness has helped to make it this far in terms of hygiene standards. The personnels proficiently audit the service providers and keep a close eye on their performance after considering the vast scope of public spaces overseen by the Department of Public Cleanliness at NEA for cleaning operations. They resorted to utilising mobile apps to streamline this procedure.

To keep track of the fill levels in public waste bins, NEA employs sensor technology. These sensors trigger notifications to cleaning staff to empty the bins when they near capacity— it is a wonderful way to ensure efficient waste management. Also, field officers have the capability to instantly report any cleaning deficiencies using their smartphones during inspections. In addition to all these, the data helps in planning bin-emptying schedules and optimising bin placement in public areas.

It is also for overseeing the mechanical sweepers and vehicles that maintain Singapore's streets NEA has combined GPS, mounted cameras, and sensors. This integration enables officers to follow their routes and assess the efficacy of their cleaning tasks. The use of digital tools and centralised actions like mask rationing systems and all the cleanliness protocols in Singapore could contain the COVID-19 spread and flatten the curve even when it serves as one of Southeast Asia’s global travel hubs.  

The Role of Home Cleaning Services in Keeping Up the Cleaning Standards

The Sendhelper network with more than 2000 trained and verified freelancers helps everyone in Singapore meet their cleaning goals at homes and offices, even when they are busy. As per a report by the Department of Statistics in Singapore on Census of Population 2020, Singaporeans have brought in greater income in the past 10 years even when dual-career couples are common. This somehow suggest that households will continue to rely on outsourced help for cleaning and servicing their homes. The fact that no Singaporean ever would want to compromise on the quality of their everyday life is worthy of high praise itself. With more people working from home too after the pandemic, everyone is concerned about keeping their environment tidy.

What makes companies like Sendhelper so reliable is the ease with which a Singaporean can book the services through just a few taps. Whether it is a regular or an occasional service like part-time cleaning, deep-cleaning, aircon service, laundry or a miscellaneous cleaning task, a worthy house cleaning company like Sendhlper takes care of it all. An additional perk of booking home cleaning services is that they make sure to uphold the highest cleaning standards. Warding off the spread of diseases between employees is also a plus of relying on cleaning brands to clean offices in Singapore.  

If you live in Singapore for a while, you will soon find yourself adopting the clean lifestyle. You begin using hand sanitisers that are kept for customers in shops and offices and learn to sort your household stuff either by yourself or with the help of companies like Sendhelper. The use of up-to-date technologies by trained professionals to clean your house will provide everyone with unmatched results. The best value packages for weekly and fortnightly cleaning—from S$ 25/hr—can be availed with other perks such as being able to get professional repeat cleaning by the same professional, ironing service, and dedicated support. And when you return to your homeland, you will be a little disturbed to see people coughing and sneezing in public— something that’s unthinkable in Singapore.  

Services recommended for you