Tips to reduce the number of germs and bacteria in your home
By Melanie May
Many of germs and bacteria in our home come from us and live in harmony with us. We cannot and shouldn’t rid our home of all germs and bacteria. However, if you want to reduce the number of germs and bacteria in your home we have a few tips that should help.
First off, it is important to understand that not all disinfectant products are created equal. There are loads of different types of germs and bacteria and not every product kills them all.
Following on from that, disinfectants can’t properly clean surfaces if they are dirty or greasy, so make sure you clean the surfaces beforehand with soap and water.
Lemon & Rosemary Vinegar Cleaner
You may not be aware but in your cupboard, you have one of the most powerful cleaning agents – Vinegar! It doesn’t contain any nasties like bleach, ammonium or other poisonous cleaning ingredients either. Vinegar does not only flavour your chips but it will clean your house too! It is so versatile and cost-effective.
Take an empty spray bottle or Kilner jar and half fill with vinegar and then half fill with water before adding these gorgeous ingredients and leaving to infuse for up to a week. Don’t forget to shake well!
Try these different combinations:
- Lemon rinds (3-4) and rosemary (2-3 sprigs)
- Orange rinds (2-3) and peppermint oil (3 drops)
- Eucalyptus (2- 3 sprigs) and tea tree oil (2-3 drops)
Reduce the number of germs and bacteria you bring into your home
Sanitise on the go
The first thing you can do to help reduce the number of germs and bacteria in your home is to try to reduce the number you bring into your home in the first place. To do this, carry with your disinfectant wipes or hand sanitiser. We touch a huge amount of surfaces when we are out and one way to reduce the number of germs is to sanitise our hands and the surfaces with which we come in contact. This will reduce the number of germs you bring home. However, you need to use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol for this to be effective.
You should use sanitiser after you touch things like public door handles, fuel pumps, pedestrian crossing buttons, handrails, or gym equipment. You can also use wipes to clean shopping trolly, your work desk and surfaces in your car, including the exterior door handles.
Remove your shoes
If you live you Japan you take your shoes off before going into people’s homes. According to those in the know – the scientists – the average shoe harbours hundreds of thousands of bacteria per square inch. However, the amount of bacteria that our shoes bring indoors isn’t typically high enough to make the average healthy person very sick.
Shoes spread germs and bacteria on the floor and adults don’t usually spend a lot of time down there. Babies and toddlers, however, do spend a lot of time crawling around on the floors. Another group who might be affected by the bacteria on shoes are those who are immunocompromised. So, removing shoes reduces the number of germs and bacteria entering your home and is good practice if you have a small child or if someone in your home is at risk of infection.
Wash your hands
As soon as you have taken off your shoes, head to the sink and give your hands a good wash. You should do this even if you have been using disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser when you have been out. Why is that you might ask? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) “Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried.”
You should always wash your hands after you have used the toilet, before eating or preparing food and after being with someone who is sick.
Reduce germs and bacteria on surfaces
You need to daily disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, drawer and cupboard handles and taps. You should also clean tables, countertops, desks, keyboards, TV remotes, game controllers and phones. Anywhere you hang out, germs hang out.
Products containing bleach, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide are the best at killing off germs and bacteria. As mentioned above, you should clean the surfaces with soap and water first and then leave the disinfectant on for 30 to 60 seconds before wiping off with moist paper towels or a clean, wet cloth.
If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals in your house, you can use a mix of white vinegar, lemon juice and tea tree oil. This will safely clean most surfaces and remove grease, but it will not kill germs or bacteria. Undiluted white vinegar may work on some limited types of bacteria, but it’s not the best way to get surfaces germ-free.
Any dropped crumbs or spills should be vacuumed and cleaned up immediately to prevent bacteria from growing in your carpets and furniture.
Reduce germs and bacteria in the kitchen
Keep kitchen surfaces as germ-free as possible by not putting items like your bag, laptop, phone, key etc. on top of them.
You should clean your kitchen counters and surfaces each time you prepare food. Wash them first with hot soapy water and then sanitise with the product of your choice. Let them air dry.
At the end of each day, you should take your kitchen sponge and wet it and zap it in the microwave for two minutes. This will help kill some of the germs and bacteria lurking there.
Reduce germs and bacteria in the bathroom
Put a lid on it. No, really. To reduce the number of germs and bacteria in your bathroom, always flush the toilet when the lid is down. Research shows that when you flush a toilet it disperses microbes far enough to settle on other bathroom surfaces, like the floor, the sink, and even your toothbrush. Therefore, you should also keep toothbrushes and cups in cupboards.
Germs and bacteria can also remain on the toilet bowl even after multiple flushes. The microbes decreased after the first few flushes but many remained until it was scrubbed off with a brush.
Reduce germs and bacteria in the bedroom
Beds are hotbeds for germs and bacteria. We sweat so much when we sleep and bedding and pillows contain fungi, dead skin, dust mites and droppings too. To help reduce the number of germs and bacteria that you bring into your bed, you could have a shower before bedtime. This will wash toxins, sweat and bacteria off your body before you touch your bedding.
You should never go to bed with wet hair though. The moisture seeps into the pillow and creates the perfect breeding ground for fungi, bacteria and germs.
To further reduce germs and bacteria in the bedroom, make sure you wash bedding at 60 degrees or above.