Workplace clothing, grooming and personal hygiene

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Appearance at work is important as it encourages respect and creates an impression of who you are.

An essential aspect of appearance is good personal hygiene. All employers will expect that you are clean and well groomed.

If your manager talks to you about your clothing, grooming or personal hygiene, understand that it is because they need to manage everyone’s comfort and needs. Much in the way that strong body odour may be a sensory challenge for an autistic person, it can also be hard for neurotypical (or non autistic) people.

Workplace personal hygiene requirements

Personal hygiene skills, such as washing and grooming, can sometimes be challenging for autistic people. This is often due to sensory sensitivities such as a heightened sense of smell or touch. Other autistic people may have sensory sensitivities to the textures of clothes and shoes. Some people find different toothbrushes or soaps a sensory nightmare.

Effective ways to maintain good hygiene and avoid smelling bad are to apply deodorant or antiperspirant daily, brush your teeth daily and always wear clean clothes.

When washing clothes, sometimes clothes need to be soaked to remove body odour smells. Fabric spray can be used under the arms of clothes to reduce bad smells and help keep your clothing fresh.

Workplace clothing requirements

When you enter the world of work, you will need to abide by dress codes and grooming standards. Consider finding clothes and routines that work for you whilst maintaining workplace dress standards.

For example, you could find shirts made from soft fabrics, shoes that are comfortable yet still appropriate for the work environment, and personal hygiene products that are not unpleasant for you. If the texture of a work uniform is difficult to cope with, you can talk to your manager and ask for alternatives. 

Regardless of where you work the following points apply:

  • Wash your work clothes once you have worn them
  • Hang or fold and put away your clean and dry work clothes
  • Replace work clothes when they become worn out or acquire holes or stains.

Workplace dress codes

Different workplaces will have different dress codes. For example:

  • In some jobs you need to wear protective clothing like high visibility vests or steel capped boots.
  • In office jobs there may be an expectation that men wear a suit or long dress pants and a button up shirt.
  • In some jobs you will be provided with a uniform.
  • Some retail shops ask you to only wear black and white clothes.

As employees we need to follow these workplace dress codes.

If you are unsure of the dress code it is important that you ask your manager what the policy is.  

Examples of universal workplace grooming expectations

  • Brushing teeth
  • Regularly cutting hair
  • Keeping hair clean and tidy
  • Regularly grooming or shaving facial hair for men

End of Module Questions

  • If unsure of grooming expectations at your workplace you should check with your manager.
  • Why is it important to have good appearance and personal hygiene at work?
  • If you are unsure of the workplace policy for appearance in your workplace, who could you ask?
  • What could you do if you have sensory sensitivities to some clothing and personal hygiene products?

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