Monday, September 29, 2014

Keeping Germs At Bay

School has started, the weather is turning cooler and suddenly your chances of catching a cold or the flu from someone increases dramatically.  It's probably inevitable that someone in your family will come home with some virus.  After all, you can't control what happens at school or at work.  But you can help to manage the germs in your home so that these uninvited guests don't get introduced to the rest of your family.

We've compiled a list of things you can do to minimize the spread of germs throughout your home.  These are things you can do on a regular basis to keep germs at bay.  But if someone in your family is actually sick, you're going to want to increase the frequency of some of the tips below.

Wipe Down Doorknobs and Light Switches

Use a sanitizing product and wipe down all the doorknobs (both sides of the door), light switches, drawer and cupboard pulls, remote controls, keyboards,  phones, microwave buttons, and anything else you can think of that everyone in your house touches on a regular basis.  While bathrooms and kitchens tend to be used the most by everyone, make sure you don't forget the entryway where people are initially bringing germs into your home before they have a chance to wash their hands.

Recommended frequency:  once a week, daily when someone is actively sick.

Be Smart In The Bathroom

Bathrooms are wet places and can harbor all kinds of yucky germs.  But being aware of how germs spread will help you out tremendously.  Avoid using bar soaps for washing hands - believe it or not, germs can live on a wet soap bar for a very long time.  Opt for a pump that can be wiped down weekly, or better yet, invest in an automatic soap pump.  Store toothbrushes so that they aren't touching one another, and replace your toothbrush after being sick.  Do not store toothbrushes anywhere near the toilet, and better yet, keep them in a covered location.  Whenever you flush, aerosolized water sprays out from the bowl bringing all those germs with it.  Which brings us to another biggie, always put the toilet lid down when you flush.  Clean your bathroom weekly and quickly clean up any water spills on the counter tops and sink edges.

Keep The Kitchen Clean

The kitchen is the number one place for germs in your entire house.  Not only is it a place where everyone congregates, there are also lots of food-born germs being handled that can contaminate any surface as well as your hands.  If you use a sponge, be sure to rinse it in soapy hot water, then ring it out to remove as much water as you can.  Store the sponge on a surface that doesn't collect water.  And always replace your sponge every 2-3 weeks.  Clean your entire kitchen weekly, paying special attention to places that everyone touches.  Don't forget to focus on the sink where lots of germs congregate.  Thoroughly clean the sink drains that can accumulate a whole host of baddies.  And remove and soak your faucet aerator in vinegar at least once per month.  Washing chicken and meats in the sink generates a lot of splashing and this is one spot many people forget to address.

The Vacuum Is Your Friend

Vacuum regularly to keep allergens at bay.  Use your vacuum on the floors, the furniture, your mattresses, your drapes and anything else you can think of.  If you have pets, wash them regularly to keep shedding to a minimum.  Your allergic family and guests will be very thankful.  Speaking of mattresses, be sure to replace them every 7-10 years.  They accumulate a lot of dirt and debris from our bodies which attracts dust mites.

Consider Changing Out Your Hardware

Did you know some metals are naturally antimicrobial?  Copper, copper alloys like brass, and silver and gold have the ability to kill bacteria, while stainless steel seems to have little to no antimicrobial activity. Brass doorknobs disinfect themselves within about 8 hours.  This means it's in your best interest to change out your doorknobs and cabinet hardware for brass, copper or another antimicrobial metal.  Bonus:  natural metal hardware is very stylish as well!   Be sure you don't have a coating on the metal as that will negate the antimicrobial effects.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

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