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No matter where you go, there will always be germs. Yes, even in the cleanest of homes! In fact, there really isn’t a way to keep any place 100 percent germ-free because some germs and bacteria occur naturally and are even necessary to prevent the growth of worse kinds of germs and bacteria. Harmful viruses can also make their way into your home because we are often in contact with other people and the outside world.
However, it is possible to stop the spread of germs with a few cleaning tips and good hygiene habits. Here are a few tips on how to keep your home clean and germ-free as much as possible. Most of them are simple things that you probably already know — like washing your hands — but often forget or do not remember to do the right way. Hopefully, this list will serve as a healthy and safety reminder for you and your family.
Wash Your Hands Properly
The importance of washing one’s hands can never be understated. It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs and viruses, not to mention one of the most affordable as well. You don’t need to buy antibacterial soap, too; just regular soap is enough. The CDC has a five-step guide to wash your hands right: (1) wet your hands; (2) lather them thoroughly with soap (include the back, the spaces between your fingers, and under your nails); (3) scrub for at least 20 seconds; (4) rinse under running water; and (5) make sure to dry thoroughly by air-drying or using a clean towel.
It’s also important to know when to wash your hands. The most critical situations are before and after handling food or cooking, before eating, before and after treating a wound, after coughing or sneezing, after using the toilet, and after touching garbage. If you don’t have access to soap or clean water, you can make do with a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol and then wash your hands in the soonest opportunity.
Use Separate Chopping Boards
Wood chopping boards are the most ideal since they are nonporous, last for years, and are easy to care for. They also don’t run the risk of leaching chemicals onto your food or breaking so easily, unlike plastic or glass. However, it’s a good idea to have two separate cutting boards: one to use for fruits, vegetables, and bread, and the other for cutting and preparing raw meat, poultry, and seafood. To disinfect, simply wash your chopping board with warm, soapy water and let it air dry. Rub it down with food-grade mineral oil regularly to keep it in good shape.
Always Clean Surfaces Used for Preparing Food
It’s only logical to keep your kitchen counters, tabletops, and other surfaces that you use to prepare food as clean as possible, before and immediately after use. This not only ensures that the food you cook is clean, but also that the germs don’t spread and the mess doesn’t get more difficult to clean. Make sure to disinfect sponges and cleaning cloths by washing them in hot water (at least 150 F), especially if you’ve prepared something particularly messy.
Wipe Down “Innocent” Surfaces and Items
These seemingly “innocent” surfaces include door knobs, door handles, faucet handles, and light switches. These things don’t look like they get dirty but just imagine the number of people who touch them with hands that may have been in unknowing contact with germs. You don’t have to religiously clean these surfaces every time they are used because it would be impractical; about once a month would do.
Use Two Mop Buckets
If you use the same bucket for washing and rinsing, you are essentially putting back the dirt and germs that you’ve already mopped off the floor. Use two buckets: one for washing and one for rinsing. Of course, don’t forget to dry the floor properly after mopping. You should also wash the mop heads in hot soapy water and let them air dry after every use.
Wash Towels After Four Uses
Bath towels stay damp for a while after you use them to dry off after a bath or shower. That moist environment is prime breeding ground for germs and bacteria, even something as harmful as E. coli. Washing your towels regularly goes a long way in curbing the growth of microorganisms and the risk of transferring them onto your skin.
The ideal schedule of washing your towels is about four to five uses (not days!). This means that if you shower often, you might be also be throwing your towel into the hamper more often. In between uses, make sure to hang towels on a rack to assist in the drying process. It’s also a good idea for family members to use their own separate towels, especially if one or more are sick, to prevent the spread of germs.
Again, it’s important to remember that you can’t be absolutely germ-free — even bleaches, toilet cleaners, and other cleaning and disinfecting aids only claim to kill 99.99 percent of germs! Just be conscientious about basic hygiene practices and keep your home clean, and you won’t have to worry too much about spreading harmful germs.