In the winter season, people suddenly become more conscious of their health. The cooler winter weather makes everyone more apprehensive about the spread of germs when they are out doing their holiday shopping or interacting with others in the office and other crowded settings.
A place that we often forget to be wary of is our home. You may not realize it, but there are an insane number of places where dust and germs fester in your home daily. You might consider your home as your safe haven, but really, it’s just the meeting ground for all of the germs you pick up throughout the day. You track in dust and germs on your shoes, clothes, and skin, and allow them to enter your home each and every day.
Typically, people rally during the spring and go into a “spring cleaning” frenzy, but really you should be focusing on keeping your home clean all year round. Take note of these home hygiene tips to ensure your home and family can be healthy all year long.
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Let your shoes stay at the door
Your shoes are huge carriers of bacteria, toxins, and dirt. In fact, one study detected an average of 421,000 bacteria on the outside surface of shoes. This included Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. Coli. This bacterium can cause serious health complications such as intestinal infections and even meningitis. Imagine carrying this on your shoes and letting it trek all through the house where you eat, rest, and relax.
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The best course of action you can take it to leave your shoes at the door. There’s really no way to prevent picking up everything we do on our shoes throughout the day, that is, until science allows us to levitate or fly. If possible, set up a mud room in your home where all the dirt from outside can be confined. Leave your shoes here and never wear them through the house.
Don’t forget about your pet’s hygiene
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If our shoes can bring all these germs in from outdoors, imagine how much our pets carry. You may not realize your pet can pass diseases to you, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 6 out of 10 infectious diseases are zoonotic (aka, they can pass between animals and humans). Also, even if you aren’t allergic to your pet, they can carry allergens in their fur, causing sneezing, stuffy noses, and difficulties breathing.
So, what can you do? Never let your pets outside? Obviously not. But by maintaining proper grooming practices and regularly bathing your pet, you can ensure they’re at least a little bit more clean and hygienic.
Your pet’s hygiene goes beyond regular bathing, though. The pet products around your home are known to harbor tons of germs. Make sure you’re also regularly washing your pet’s soft bedding (home of dirt, dust, allergens, and flea eggs and larvae). Your pet’s saliva is also a transmitter for bacteria, which can spread illness to other pets and humans in the house, so be sure to keep their food and water dishes clean.
As much as we love our pets and consider them family, we have to remain conscious that they can’t always keep themselves clean. For best practice, regularly maintain your pet’s hygiene and wash your hands after contact.
Don’t skimp on your sleep hygiene
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If you’re like the average sleeper, you’re spending at least seven hours in your sheets each night, so you should be making sure they’re clean. Many neglect the importance of this area of hygiene and don’t change their sheets nearly enough. This may change though if people know that the average person perspires about 26 gallons of sweat into their sheets each year. If left unwashed, this can be a huge invitation to bacteria.
Your sleep hygiene goes even deeper beyond the surface. You may be sleeping on clean sheets, but are you sleeping on a clean mattress? Your mattress collects dead skin cells and the dust mites that feast on them as it ages. You should make sure to replace your mattress at least every decade to give yourself a clean slate. To help you sleep a little easier in the meantime, you can clean your mattress best by vacuuming. Yes, you should vacuum your mattress. This will suck out all the small particles that are hiding beneath and make your sleep even more clean.
Pay attention to the hotspots
Some places in your house are more prone to collecting your family member’s germs. These are known as the hotspots. Make sure you’re keeping these spots extra clean and sanitizing on a weekly basis at least.
Some common hotspots include television remotes, light switches, drawer handles, door handles, faucets, sponges, toilet seats, floors, work out equipment, and makeup application tools.
Deep clean your bathroom weekly
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If you don’t already deep clean your bathroom on a weekly basis, you should be a little bit concerned.
Bacteria thrives best in damp, moist environments. In other words, your bathroom is their ideal home. You shouldn’t be intimidated with the term “deep cleaning” though as if it’s a chore you need to schedule for several hours on your Saturday. If you’re regularly keeping up with your bathroom cleanliness anyways then it shouldn’t be a huge chore.
To get started, focus on your shower. Scrubbing the walls may seem obvious, but an often forgotten about aspect is cleaning the shower curtain. If you have a plastic shower curtain or liner, you can throw it in your washing machine to clean it of soap scum and mildew. You can even throw some towels in the load to act as scrubbers. When it’s done, just hang it back up to dry.
The shower head is important, too. For an easy clean, fill a plastic bag with vinegar and allow the shower head to fully submerge and soak overnight.
Once your shower is good to go, give attention to the toilet, sink, counters, mirror, and floor. If you do this weekly, it will become an easy and quick routine that leaves you with a sparkling clean bathroom.
Clean as you go
While some high-traffic areas require a lot of maintenance, you can generally keep up your home’s hygiene with the clean as you go mentality. Instead of having to dedicate an hour each week to cleaning up everything, make it a part of your daily routine.
You can spend less than 10 minutes each day just quickly cleaning your countertops and other high-risk areas. If you regularly remove the dirt, germs won’t have anywhere to live.
Home hygiene isn’t an exact science, and everyone’s concerns vary slightly when it comes to how regularly you should upkeep certain areas, but if you take time to maintain the high-risk areas or germ hotspots you’ll be a step closer to a cleaner home.
Author’s bio: Laurie Larson is a writer based in Durham, NC. She writes on home, health, and lifestyle topics.