While cold and flu season may still be in full swing, and the coronavirus is on everyone’s mind, we have the scoop on the best strategies to prevent germs from spreading, so you can to lessen the chances of getting sick or making others ill, at home and at work.
Here are the basics:
Clean & Disinfect Surfaces
There are a lot of places for germs to hide, such as the kitchen sink, cutting board, doorknobs, desks and entertainment centers. After cooking, be sure to fully wipe down the kitchen with an anti-bacterial sanitizer to minimize spreading potentially deadly microbes (like E. coli) around the rest of the house. Wipe down doorknobs, desks and entertainment centers once a day, or at least every few days, to keep germs at bay.
Pro Tip: Disinfect hard surfaces by wiping or mopping with a solution of 1/2 cup of bleach per gallon of water. Allow the solution to be in contact with the surface for at least five minutes. Rinse and air dry. And, so you don’t spread germs unintentionally, after mopping floors, disinfect the mop head by soaking it for 15-20 minutes in a solution of 1/2 cup bleach and one gallon of water. Also, do not re-use cleaning cloths in other parts of the house. Toss them in the washer instead.
Properly Store Your Toothbrush
Bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes eat the same food you do, and when you brush your teeth, food particles and bacteria stick to your toothbrush. The unhappy result: an overgrowth of germs on your brush. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water and place it in an upright position. Placing it on the counter can cause it to come in contact with other germs, and placing it in a travel case causes excess moisture where bacteria can thrive.
Pro Tip: Keep toothbrushes uncovered and, if someone is in your household is sick, isolate the toothbrush of the sick person from those of other family members.
Regularly Clean Your Cellphones, Toys & Tech Items
We touch our phones constantly throughout the day, and they are naturally big carriers of germs, such as staph or flu viruses. Wipe down phones, tech and toys with a disinfecting product a few times a week to ensure they stay germ free.
Pro Tip: To sanitize kiddie items such as non-electric plastic or metal toys, sippy cups, teething rings, bottle nipples and dishes, wash items first then soak them for two minutes in a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water. Rinse in warm water then air dry.
Wash Your Sheets & Clothes Weekly
We spend a lot of time in our bedrooms, so it’s not surprising this is a place where germs would congregate. We shed dead skin cells on our bedding, clothes and carpets. Wash your bedding in hot water at least once a week. Kill dust mites by turning up the water heater to a mite–killing 130 degrees before you wash, and turn it back down afterward. Also consider using an anti-allergy mattress wrap, which can keep mite waste from contaminating your air. Wet-mop the floor and clean surfaces with an antibacterial product, and don’t let damp clothes sit in a hamper longer than a day.
Pro Tip: Sanitize your laundry with bleach — regular bleach for whites and color-safe bleach for colors. (Be sure to follow fabric care instructions on label.) Add 2/3 cup of bleach (1/3 cup for HE machines) to the dispenser or wash water. Add clothes and start to wash, making sure the laundry is in contact with the bleach solution for 10 minutes.
And, a final word to the wise: clean hands are just as important as a clean house. To kill germs, wash hands all over with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. (For kids, sing “Happy Birthday” twice.)
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