Any parent knows that having a child inevitably involves messes. But having kids in the household can also make your home a haven for germs!
In the middle of cold and flu season, it can seem like germs are everywhere. And in fact, if surfaces in your home, at work, and at your child’s school were closely examined, those germs would be evident.
That means that you and your family are being exposed to germy surfaces and objects all the time. Some of those germs are even coming home with you.
But that doesn’t mean that getting sick has to be a fact of life. You can take steps to protect yourselves from illness by cleaning and disinfecting your home regularly, especially when spending more time at home due to school closures or social distancing.
Knowing the hot spots for germs to lurk in your house is a great place to begin. Read on as we offer some insight into where those pests might be hiding.
The different types of germs
While we’re throwing all germs into one large bucket, it’s important to know that there are many different kinds of germs. Some of them aren’t even harmful — they can actually help us digest vitamins, maintain good digestive health, and boost our immune system.
But other germ types can sometimes wreak havoc on our health. These include:
Each of these germs — or microbes — behaves differently. Bacteria, for example, can be harmful in some cases, but can also be beneficial. Viruses can live on surfaces for a couple of hours to days depending on the surface material, and they go wild when they infect a living organism.
Now let’s learn where they’re hiding:
Hot spot for germs: The bed
Just think about it! We spend a good chunk of the time we’re at home in bed, and that’s especially true for kids since they need more sleep for optimal health and development.
Change out sheets and pillowcases every couple of weeks, wash the blanket or comforter regularly, and take time to disinfect the hard surfaces on the bed, such as the bed or crib rail. This surface is touched often, but it’s one we rarely think about.
Hot spot for germs: Light switches
Unless you live largely in the dark, odds are that you’re touching the light switches often. This includes both the light switches on the wall, as well as knobs to switch on lamps.
These might be small surfaces, but they can quickly become a home for germs. So, when you’re making a pass through a room to dust it, also take time to swipe a disinfectant wipe over the switch.
Hot spot for germs: Doorknobs
The knobs letting us in and out of a room are also a hot spot for germs — especially when it comes to the doorknob for the bathroom.
Think about how many germy fingers, particularly little ones, touch those knobs on a daily basis. This is especially the case when your kids are tiny since they tend to grab the doorknob often as they navigate the newly found skill of opening doors!
Swipe a disinfectant wipe over the doorknobs regularly, or wipe them down with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
Hot spot for germs: Remote controls
Anyone who’s ever fought over the remote control for the TV in the living room knows just how many fingers touch those devices. In this instance, consider not just television remotes but also remotes for other devices, including gaming systems, security networks, and even overhead lights.
Keep disinfectant wipes handy to regularly wipe down these devices and cut down on the number of germs.
Hot spots for germs: Reusable water bottles
You may not think of a water bottle as a haven for germs, but it definitely can be! If you aren’t washing these reusable bottles on a regular basis, germs can build up, spreading not just viruses like the cold and flu but also foodborne illnesses.
Rinse your water bottles out thoroughly using soapy water and dishwashing liquid, then dry completely. This is especially important if your child regularly takes a water bottle to school since classrooms are filled with all sorts of germs that can make their way home!
Hot spot for germs: Bath toys
That rubber ducky might be adorable, but it may also be packed with icky germs. Because the bathroom is often filled with warm and humid air, these toys — and rubber items like the shower curtain — are a perfect place for bacteria and fungus to grow.
Choose bath toys that contain no holes. These are less likely to fill with water that cultivates mold growth. Clean all toys and the shower curtain with bleach regularly and then dry thoroughly.
Other places in the home where germs may lurk
Beyond the objects and surfaces we’ve outlined above, it’s important to carefully consider any spots in your home that are touched often.
This can include the computer keyboard, the mouse, phones, and refrigerator handles, among many other items.
It’s also important to think through objects that may contain other germs, such as those left behind from food, including the kitchen sink and kitchen rags and sponges.
Take time regularly to thoroughly clean your home and disinfect these commonly touched items, and also make sure everyone in your house is washing their hands often and correctly. Your health will thank you!
Is illness making its way through your home? Talk with your doctor, who can diagnose the underlying illness and offer suggestions on keeping family members well.