The holiday season is in full swing, and with all the school and work parties, we know germs are also having a heyday. How can you prevent the cold and flu from attacking your family? Or if someone does get sick, how can you truly disinfect your home?
People avoid touching and handling gross things—garbage cans, urinals, rotting food, etc. But for every well-known nasty item, there are dozens of items we often overlook, even things we put in our mouths, throw on our tables, or roll around on at night. Make disinfecting part of your typical cleaning routine, even if no one is sick.
Let’s start with the hands.
Wash your Hands
Washing your hands with soap and water is still one of the best ways you can decrease your chances of getting a cold or the flu. Rub your hands together with soap for at least 20 seconds before you rinse, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. When you can’t get to a faucet, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Germ-y hands are always touching kitchen and bathroom faucet handles. These areas are hot-spots for cold and flu viruses, yeast, mold, and bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Use a disinfectant wipe to clean them daily.
You might be surprised that toothbrush holders can be the dirtiest item in your home. To clean, you can wash them with hot, soapy water once a week or place it in your dishwasher. If someone in your house is sick, keep their toothbrush separate from everyone else’s.
Plastic Toys and Stuffed Animals
Clean toys at the end of each month and more often if your child is sick. You can kill many bacteria and viruses on hard plastic toys by washing them with soap and warm water. And if possible, toss stuffed animals in the laundry.
Touch Screens and Headphones
Viruses can easily transfer from the glass of the screen to your fingertips. You can buy special wipes or check the instructions for the best way to clean the screen. And headphones aren’t just at risk from what they pick up in the bottom of your purse or gym bag. Using them for just one hour has been shown to cover those little buds with bacteria. Most can be cleaned with soap and water and a clean toothbrush.
Did that bathroom stall not have a latch for your purse? You probably laid it on the floor and forgot about it. Leather handbags are the most likely to have a high content of bacteria because germs can easily hitch a ride on its spongy material. Clean your purse once a week and wipe everything with antibacterial wipes. Carry antibacterial wipes in your purse to wipe it down every few days, and since your purse is prone to collecting bacteria on multiple surfaces, leave your purse at the door to avoid further contamination in your home.
When was the last time you cleaned your remote? It’s likely to be the most touched item in your home and cold and flu germs tend to live longest on plastic and other hard surfaces. To clean it, first clear out debris with a dry toothbrush. Then use a cotton swab or cotton ball dipped in mild cleaner to disinfect. You can use the same method on computer keyboards.
Wipe down your work space regularly, especially when colds and the flu are going around. Those viruses can live on hard surfaces up to 8 hours.
Finally, everyone in your home should wash their hands more often when someone is sick. We wish you safe, happy, and healthy holidays!