Monday, November 9, 2009

10 Germ Bustin' Tips

With the piggy-flu and all, this time of year is especially bothersome with all the germs floating around. Arm yourself and your family against the germs with the following tips:

1. Wash hands properly. Kids try to get away with just wetting their hands and calling it good. I often tell my kids, "If you don't use soap, you're just getting the germs wet!" Teach and practice proper hand-washing methods. Lather with soap for at least 15-20 seconds, scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

2. Wash your hands frequently. Especially before you eat and first thing when you get home. Don't let the germs your hands have gathered from school, the grocery store, etc get any further into your home than your sink with hot, soapy water.

3. Use the disinfecting wipes at the grocery store to disinfect the handle of the grocery cart. Those handles have been known to carry germs from saliva, bacteria, and even fecal matter. Ick!! If your store doesn't supply them, suggest it to manager. In the meantime, carry a few in a plastic bag in your purse. Plus, ALWAYS put meat in the plastic bags from the meat department. It'll prevent adding more germs to the mix and possible cross-contamination if it leaks on your other groceries (ewww).

4. Disinfect that kitchen sponge. It's fairly common knowledge that the kitchen sponge is the place with the most germs in your home. To disinfect it you can run it through your dishwasher OR you can put it on a plate and microwave it for 2-3 minutes or until it is dry (but watch it so it doesn't ignite and never microwave a sponge with metal fibers!). Replace your sponge every 2 weeks, tops. Another option is to use a dishtowel instead, and replace it with a fresh one every morning. If you do that, be sure to wash them in hot water with a little bleach to disinfect them.

5. Teach kids to not put their mouths on the spigot of the drinking fountain -- only in the stream of water. The spigot is covered with germs and it's like sharing a drinking cup with the whole school (!). Better yet, send them with their own water bottle if the school will allow it. Label it with their name.

6. Use hand sanitizer frequently! Keep it away from small children and don't use it with kids who put their hands in their mouths -- it is alcohol based, after all. (Use a wet-wipe instead.) One place that has lots of germs is the playground. Don't forget to use it often while you're there. Don't bring those germs home!

7. Wash your hands after doing laundry. Wet laundry has E-coli all over it. Wash underwear and towels in hot water. Use bleach when you can. Knock those germs out of the park!

8. Disinfect door knobs and handles at least once a week, more often when someone at home is sick. Use a disinfecting wipe or spray.

9. Your kitchen sink harbors the most germs in your home. Clean it regularly, especially after preparing food and anytime it comes in contact with raw meat. For tips on how to clean your sink, click here.

10. Teach and practice proper methods when sneezing or coughing: do it in your elbow and NOT on your hands.

Have any other tips for eliminating germs in your home/family and staying healthy this flu season? Leave me a comment! :)


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  1. Such important tips! Btw, a great hand sanitizer that is all natural, contains no alcohol, and no harsh chemicals is Clean Well. It smells nice, is 99.99% effective germ-busting and it won't dry out your hands. They make great soaps too-chemical free-the best for our kiddos, and for us!

  2. I do worry a bit about over-sanitizing everything (thus creating super germs). That being said, I clean door knobs, light switches, remote controls & telephones twice a week or so (but not always with clorox wipes - I've found the method wipes to work just as well, without the harsh chemicals). As well as the kitchen sink, toilet & bathtub (those I disinfect). There's no way I'd buy & throw away sponges every 2 weeks (seems like such a waste), so I use cloth dishrags in the kitchen.

    I wash most stuff in cold water & line dry in the sun as much as I can (UV kills germs and brightens - even in winter in the NE). I don't use bleach except when absolutely necessary (it's rarely necessary). We've never contracted e coli, so I don't see any reason to change our laundry habits - if it aint broke, don't fix it. I do, however, wash my hands after handling laundry. We cloth diaper, and still we've had no issues with diaper rash, odor, or illness (one wash cold, one wash hot, never any bleach as it could damage baby's skin).

    I wash the baby's toys with regular dish soap (7th gen) & warm water before bed every other day or so. We do NOT use anti-bacterial soap in our house. We prefer the Method brands of soap & cleaners - it's gentler on the skin, and I don't worry so much about accidental poison exposure. What toys can be put in the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle are every time we run it.

    One thing to keep in mind with all the hand washing is that by doing so, you strip away the natural oils in your skin, which dries them out. Make sure to moisturize your hands, otherwise your skin will crack, and actually make it easier for germs to get into your system.