While most of us have never dealt with a global pandemic before, we are all widely experienced at cleaning our own homes. It’s not just about using disinfecting cleaners—though it is definitely important to use these regularly to sanitize surfaces. We’re talking about simple things you can do to keep germs from entering and proliferating in your home. If you get your family to make a habit of following these steps, you’ll keep those nasty germs at the minimum (c’mon, you know no one can achieve 100% germ-free status!), for now and for the future.
1. Leave Your Shoes at the Door
According to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shoes may potentially function as carriers for the COVID-19 virus. Think of all the places you go with your shoes (your neighborhood sidewalks, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, etc.). Our shoes are capable of tracking in and spreading germs around our homes. Keep a storage shelf and a bench in your entryway or in the garage, and get everyone in the habit of removing their shoes and then washing their hands. Have comfy slippers or house shoes nearby for an easy transition.
2. Sanitize Your Cleaning Tools
Sponges, mops, dish cloths, dust rags, cleaning cloths—these could all be major breeding grounds for germs. Sponges and dish brushes are easy: pop it into the dishwasher every time you run a load, and regularly replace sponges every few weeks. The other cleaning cloths should be sanitized in between uses with a Hot washer + High dryer cycle, or a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Tools with handles, such as brooms, scrubbers, and buckets, can be sanitized by wiping the handles and exteriors down with disinfectant.
3. Put Down The Toilet Lid
The term “toilet plume” is actually as bad as it sounds. It is the undetectable spray your toilet releases upward of 15 feet each time you flush the toilet, dispersing microscopic bacteria that can linger in the air for up to six hours and settling down on any surfaces (including towels) in your bathroom. The no-brainer, easy solution is to put down the lid before you flush. One second of “work” for a pretty big payoff.
4. Clean Your Handheld Tech, Toys, Etc.
Think of all the things with buttons you touch multiple times a day: phone, remotes, thermostat, alarm system pad, tablets, e-readers, mouses, keyboards. Add to that things like keys, joysticks, video game controllers, card keys…even wallets or money clips. Use an alcohol or disinfecting wipe, and kill the germs that are hanging out on these items. Pro tip: These wipes are fairly damp, so you can use one on several items before tossing it. If the wipe is very wet, be sure to quickly follow up with a dry cloth or paper towel on any electronics or computer items.
5. Store Your Toothbrush in a Better Place
Remember #3 and the “toilet plume”? After using, rinse your toothbrush in hot water and store upright (so it can properly dry) inside the medicine cabinet or under-sink cupboard. Don’t rest it on the counter, where it could pick up germs; don’t store it in a travel case, where it stays moist. You could even pop it into the dishwasher once a week to give it a really good sanitizing.
6. Keep Outside Items Off Surfaces
Bringing in packages, takeout bags, or reusable grocery bags? No problem—just don’t place them on your kitchen counters, the dining table, or your desk. Any bacteria on the undersides of those items will get tracked onto your home’s surfaces for food prep, eating, and working. Have you ever seen the interior floor of a UPS truck? ‘Nuff said.
7. Keep Your Phone Out of the Bathroom
The potential for contamination gets higher when you bring your phone into the bathroom. This is a good habit to break.
These seven habits are pretty quick and easy to adapt to, if you haven’t been doing them already. Getting your family’s buy-in shouldn’t be too difficult if you frame it as a necessity towards good household hygiene and health. If you succeed in making these behaviors habitual in your household, the weekly deep cleanings will also likely be a bit lighter!