With the pandemic winding down and flu season upon us once again, it’s a great time to review the little things that help fend off bacteria and harmful germs. We all know the holidays are an ideal time for germs, bacteria and viruses to spread. With regular parties, gatherings, dinners…and lots of hugs going around,, these joyous times are a heyday for bacteria as well as humans.
No one wants to head into the holidays with that nasty flu or cold virus. You’ve probably planned some amazing surprises for your loved ones. Still, you want to make sure that the new toaster doesn’t come with the flu or coronavirus.
So what can you do to tip the odds in your favour? How to stay healthy and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year to the fullest?
Near the top of the list for flu and virus protection is sanitation. Good old-fashioned cleanliness can be a huge factor in keeping you and your family healthy over the holidays.
While it’s likely you’ve already seen to common surfaces like the bathroom, the counters and floor, there are other places and things around the house that you might have missed.
Here’s a quick rundown of some commonly overlooked but important things to clean around the house.
Railings, Handles, and Knobs
Hands are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to bacteria spread. It’s just the way it is. We use our hands for everything and that means that they’re the front line for our physical contact with the world. Hands pick up the most germs, and therefore also spread the most germs. Hand washing (or sanitising when washing is not viable) is paramount, but there is a second line of defence that’s often left out.
Germs, bacteria, and viruses spread not only from hand to hand but also from surface to hand. (This is a recurring theme. Several items in this list will refer back to hands as germ-spreading mechanisms). Railings, handles and door knobs see continual contact with many and diverse hands, but often go uncleaned. A quick scrub with a disinfectant wipe is all that’s necessary to clean these surfaces and it can do wonders for limiting the spread of illness in your home.
Recent research reveals that some surfaces play host to micro-organisms better than others. As it happens, porous surfaces like cardboard, wood and cloth can carry live bacteria longer than hard surfaces. Since micro-organisms can sink into the pores on these surfaces, making them more difficult to clean.
That’s why towels are on this list. No one is saying you don’t clean your towels – the point is to underscore the importance of changing your hand towels regularly. Throw them in the wash or change them out after a gathering, and you’re taking another step closer to a healthy holiday season.
Computer Accessories, Keyboards, and Phones
Once again hands are the culprit. Each of the above devices sees regular hand traffic while at the same time getting passed over in your cleaning process. Who thinks to wipe down the keyboard, charging chords, or iPhone screen? Maybe you do. But if not here’s your reminder;
Don’t forget to regularly wipe down your charger, keyboard, and phone! Once again all it takes is a quick wipe down with a disinfectant wipe.
Hands are yet again the culprit.
Light switches are constantly flicked on and off as we move through the day, in and out of rooms, and up and down stairs. You probably haven’t thought of it for a while but these everyday wall-mounted points of hand traffic see a lot of bacteria. Because they’re smooth and dry surfaces, it’s unlikely that any harmful micro-organisms will last long, but it’s still a good idea to give them a good cleaning.
It doesn’t take long to go over your light switches with a disinfectant wipe and it could be the difference between ‘I’m in bed with flu’ and ‘I’m at an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party’!
Just tag light switches on the end of your cleaning routine after the railings, handles, door knobs, computer accessories, phones, and keyboards.
‘How can I clean a sponge? Doesn’t it do the cleaning?’ That’s right. You can’t clean a cleaner. But, you can change out your sponges regularly. We know that porous surfaces can host microorganisms longer than hard and smooth surfaces. We also know that bacteria like to live on warm and wet surfaces. This means that a sponge is a near-perfect environment for bacteria to spend some time between live hosts. Moreover, constant contact with dirty surfaces like plates and cutting boards means that sponges and scrubbing pads have an even higher potential to spread bacteria.
Changing your sponges and scrubbing pads regularly is a great idea. Since you’re constantly using them to clean other items they should also be new and clean. Try switching out your kitchen scrubbing pads and washcloths weekly during flu season to ensure your dishes are clean and free of harmful bacteria when you put them back in the cupboards.
This last item might seem a little out of place alongside the others, but it’s here for a reason. Like other list items, stuffed animals (and other cloth toys), are items that tend to attract bacteria but often slip under the radar when cleaning day comes around.
Just pop them in the wash alongside those dirty towels before air-drying and placing them back on the bed pillows fresh and clean.
No one wants to spend the Christmas season laid up in bed. We want to be out and about, enjoying each other’s company, and spending time with friends and family. The fact that the flu season coincides with the holiday season shouldn’t stop you from participating in fun, seasonal holiday pastimes. Of course you’re going out to enjoy the lights, the snow and the egg nog! While you do so there are a few practices that can help prevent illness. One of them is cleaning.
Clean, germ-free surfaces and household items mean less chance of transmission among you and your friends. So no need to be stressed about getting sick, just remember to give those forgotten items a little scrub and enjoy your holidays with piece of mind that you’re doing your part to protect your loved ones.