How to Keep Your Home Germ-Free
We share some tips on how to keep your home sanitized and safe.
A clean house is a happy home and a healthy home. Keeping your home germ-free is one of the best things you can do to keep your family members safe – but what does it mean to truly banish those germs? We take a look at some key practices that help you rid your home of harmful germs.
Clean, then disinfect
Terms like cleaning and disinfecting are often used interchangeably, but the experts want you to think of them as two separate, important steps to keeping a healthy home. Both the Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that cleaning is the physical removal of germs and dirt from a surface, while disinfecting actually kills the germs on the surface.
Both are critical – cleaning with soap and water reduces the number of germs on a surface, and following with a disinfectant spray or solution kills those that remain. That’s why the best approach is to do both: clean and disinfect surfaces, then thoroughly disinfect cleaning tools (such as sponges or rags) or properly dispose of them in a lined garbage bin.
Not sure if your disinfectant solution is the best tool for the job? In Canada, all disinfectant solutions for hard surfaces should have an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the packaging. Look for that to ensure you’re getting the real deal.
Cover it all
Cleaning and disinfecting after you or a family member’s been sick, or in order to prevent germs that may have been tracked into the house, should be a thorough process. There’s no point in making the effort to clean and disinfect if there are still germs lingering about, right?
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends starting with the most commonly touched areas such as handles, light switches, doorknobs, faucets, toys, keyboards, remote controls, and countertops. The sheer number of times a day we touch those areas can help increase in the germ population – not the outcome we are looking for!
Pay attention to areas in your home that are shared by multiple people, such as the kitchen and bathroom. These areas will need a little more attention, as they typically get more mileage and are exposed to many different germs.
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Don’t overlook textiles in your home – damp fabrics like dish towels, rags, and bath towels can all be great places for germs to hang out. Wash these items frequently, and in the hottest water/drying combination possible. Make sure bed linens and clothing are also cleaned in a washing machine rather than by hand – experts agree that laundering and drying linens in a machine can disinfect, by using a temperature a bit higher than you'd normally use.
Stay on top of germs
Daily practices will go a long way to reduce the germs in your home, especially when viruses and bacteria can live for days on some surfaces. Think about other surfaces you may use daily, such as phones, tablets, and your car – these should all be factored into your cleaning and disinfecting schedule.
A good rule of thumb, especially during heightened cold and flu seasons is to clean and disinfect every day, especially if people are entering or exiting your home. This is especially important for individuals who live in an apartment or condo building, regularly frequenting elevators and public spaces.
If you’re bringing in packages, mail, or having groceries delivered, try to minimize the packaging that comes inside, and disinfect what does. Staying on top of healthy handwashing, and other basic hygiene practices are essential to control the spread of germs in your home. When a sink and soap aren’t available, choose a hand sanitizer that is alcohol-based, with at least 60% alcohol content.
Cleaning frequently and thoroughly is the best approach to maintaining a healthy environment.
When it comes to germs, be a bad host– minimize the opportunities for them to enter, and kick out those that do. Consistent and thorough action is the best bet for keeping your spaces germ-free – a great trade-off for a healthy home!