Germs are sneaky little suckers; even when you think your house cleaning skills seem responsibly tidy and dependable, you armed with the best cleaning supplies money can buy, germs creep into your personal space in the most surprising, and quite frankly, gross ways. Germs are the dark ninjas of the hygiene world, the Darth Vaders of our antibactia existence, which makes them house cleaning enemy number one. According to Everyday Health, germs aren’t just sneaky; germs also spread fast. In fact, “contamination of a single doorknob can lead to the spread of viruses throughout an office building or hotel in as little as two hours, according to a new study.” And that incredibly quick spread of germs is part of what causes about 1 in 15 Americans to contract norovirus (aka a stomach bug) every year.
So what are you supposed to do to keep germs out of your home? There are several simple tweaks you can make to your daily house cleaning habits that will help you keep germs away from your personal space, and some of them might surprise you. Here are 11 ways that germs can sneak into your home, and some quick fixes that can help you keep those germs away without spending 24 hours a day, every day, cleaning and disinfecting every surface, all the time.
1). Dirty hands
It’s no secret that one of the fastest way to spread germs is through hand contact—assume that anything you touch is covered in germs and that everything you touch next will in turn also be covered in germs. The best way to combat germs and prevent the spread of bacteria in your home is to wash your hands. Simple. Wash them often. Wash them well. Teach your kids to wash their hands properly. And no, a quick rinse in water isn’t really going to cut it. Use good antibacterial soap. Experts suggest scrubbing vigorously for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. TWICE!
2). Your purse
As difficult as it may be to do all the time, try to wipe down any hard surface you place your purse on with a disinfectant wipe. If you see visual grime on a table at a restaurant, or countertop of any sort, wipe it clean before you place your purse on it! Your purse will thank you, as will the family members who eventually (and always) come into contact with your purse on a daily basis. Also, rethink where you set your purse or bag down. Most women are guilty of offhandedly laying a purse somewhere one shouldn’t. Think about it: you put your purse down on the floor in public restaurants, in bathrooms, on the floor of your car, and on counters at restaurants or your local coffee joint. You put that same purse (and all the germs it carries) on your kitchen counter, your dining table, and even *EEK* your bed. These germs stowaways that were hanging out all over town are now on your pillow, your dinner plate and your clothes. Always rethink where you rest your purse and again, wipe down any hard surface you can with a good disinfectant wipe, before germs have any chance to latch on and fester.
3). Your shoes
We used to make fun of people who insisted that guests remove their shoes before they walk into their home; it just seemed a bit over the top. But the world is starting to reconsider this; after all, the soles of your shoes are in constant close contact with dirt, grime, sludge, garbage, pet waste, and who knows what else from the outside. We’ve all been guilty of entering your home with dirty shoes, walking into your child’s room, your own bedroom or even kicking your tired feet up on your coffee table (shoes still on). Guess where those germs are now? Yeah, exactly. Take your shoes off before you settle in and relax.
4). Your pets
Sorry Fluffy, you are adorable and snuggly and we love you to pieces, but you also bringing countless germs into a home. That’s right animal lovers and pet owners, your furry companion is sneaking germs into your home, your bed and even your body. As quoted on Oprah.com, Lisa Conti, a veterinarian and director of the division of environmental health at the Florida Department of Health, “dogs have bacteria around their mouths you don’t want on your face.” Pets can spread germs that cause everything from the stomach flu to poison ivy and ringworm. That said, the benefits of spending time with an animal companion far outweighs the potential spread of germs, but you might want to wash your hands and face after a slobber filled smooch session with cleaning supplies that are gentle on your skin.
5). On your food
We all know we’re supposed to wash all fresh fruit and veggies before consuming them, right? Most of us, have not been 100% safe in following this practice. And we should. Produce and food can many times be covered in everything from germs to bacteria laden pesticides. Think about how many people may have picked up that apple at the gorcery store before you, or how many hands have handled a head of lettuce before you put it in your fridge. Use caution in the kitchen and wash all foods thoroughly. Eliminate germs before consuming fresh foods is rule one of good house cleaning.
6). In your kitchen sink
Another kitchen tip: clean your sink. Scrub your sink to a sparkle! Sinks can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. We often think of our sink as a safe, clean place. If we accidentally drop a piece of fruit in the sink we simply pick it up and take a bite from it, right? Don’t! That piece of fruit may now be covered with germs you were hoping to wash off your food in the first place. Be careful, and scrub.
7). Your electronic devices
Think about the items you touch most often in your life; you’re probably picturing your cell phone, your computer, your TV remote control and your tablet. Yeah, we live in a digital world, which means we spend a lot of time using devices that get dirty and live covered in germs. It’s a good idea to use gadget-friendly disinfecting wipes to clean off your computer keyboard and screen, your smartphone or anything else you often touch/share/borrow/use, especially if it comes into contact with your hands and face.
8). Your garbage
Tossing something in the garbage is only half the battle. You also need to regularly take that garbage out of your home; otherwise every time you open that garbage lid you’re releasing germs back into your air. If you have kids, most will probably try to stick their little hands into that filthy garbage any chance they get, so trust us, be vigilant about taking it out, ASAP.
9). Flushing the toilet
It’s no surprise that your toilet is dirty and covered in germs, as it should be; after all, it’s a toilet. But if you think that when you flush the toilet every germ goes down the drain, you might be surprised to know that much bacteria still remains. As you flush, germs can actually be propelled into the air and may land onto any surface in your bathroom, from your towel to your toothbrush. Gross, right? Make sure you properly disinfect and clean your bathroom using a good bathroom cleaner, and be extra thorough disinfecting the toilet lid and handle.
10). School lunchbox and cups
Kids take a clean, well-organized lunchbox to school, and when they come home with a lunchbox and water cup, most likely both are layered in harmful germs. This bacteria has been touched by several other hands, maybe even a few mouths, and lots and lots of grimy surfaces. Wash and disinfect lunch bags, boxes and cups as often as possible.
11). Your coffee cup
If you’re a regular at your local Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts than you probably walk around with a travel coffee cup all day long. This container travels with you in your car, on the counter of any store you visit, and eventually makes its way back ino your home, which means it becomes a harmful, loaded germ bus in your home. Wipe the outside surface of your cup clean with a disinfectant wipe then rinse it out with clean water as many times as you fill it. This one-two combo of disinfectant wipe, water-rinse down will eliminate countless germs from your daily routine.