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“The world teems with microbes and no amount of cleaning will make it sterile (nor would you want it to be). The vast majority of microbes pose no threat to human health. For cleaning, common sense goes a long way and is largely aesthetic rather than for therapeutic reasons” – Amesh A. Adalja, MD, FIDSA, FACP, FACEP
I wanted to open with this quote because I want to remind you that I am not here to turn you into a neat freak or make you feel afraid of what’s lurking in your home.
After all, germs are an important part of life, and they are an essential link in the way the world works. However, bad bacteria are out there, and that’s what I’m here to help you with.
Even the cleanest looking homes can still be lined with dirt and germs. You see, this is because getting rid of them isn’t so much in when you clean, but how you do it.
Furthermore, the areas of your home that you think is the dirtiest might not be, and you could be in for quite a surprise when you learn where the most germs gather. I’m here to wipe away the myths and give you all the facts about the germs within your home.
It’s not just where they are found, however, it’s all about killing them in a way that is both safe and effective. I have loads of great tips and tricks on how to keep your home at its cleanest, as well as some fantastic advice from credible experts across the globe.
If you are searching for the ultimate cleaning guide, you don’t need to look any further; it’s right here. I’m here to uncover the truth about your home, and the answers are sure to leave you shocked.
Part 1Where is the Dirtiest Place in Your Home?
Part 2How to Wash Dishes the Right Way
Part 3How Do Germs Spread?
Part 4What Helps Germs Multiply?
Part 5How Does Hand Washing Prevent Communicable Diseases from Spreading?
Part 6The Ultimate Germ Cleaning Tips
Where is the Dirtiest Place in Your Home?
“One of the dirtiest areas in a house is the kitchen.” – Pratibha Vuppuluri, CEO, She Started It!
It’s information that might come as a bit of a shock, but contrary to popular belief, the bathroom is not the dirtiest room in the house. It’s actually the kitchen. Bacteria love the kitchen because there are so many surfaces that it can live on, and it will be able to multiply freely.
Everything from sponges to chopping boards are the ideal home for bacteria, especially salmonella. This is because almost everything will likely come into contact with raw meat and unwashed foods at some point, and it is why everything from the interior of the oven and the taps, to the knobs on the hob and the light switches must be washed.
You might laugh at the idea of cleaning the light switches, but it’s amazing how grimy they get.
Which parts of your kitchen are dirtiest though? I’ve skimmed through a couple of the obvious choices, but I also have a handy list – with help from Bill Young at Common Cents Media – to help you better understand why the kitchen is such a great place for bacteria to grow and thrive:
1. Washcloths and sponges. Back in 2015, Good Housekeeping conducted a study where they gave participants washcloths for them to use for a week. The cloths covered with their own samples of salmonella, E. coli, and Pseudomonas, because these are the bacteria that they commonly pick up in your kitchen. Sponges can contain thousands of bacteria, and they need to be replaced regularly.
Following this, several methods were used to try and clean them after use including; dishwasher, microwave, washing machine, bleach soaking, ammonia soaking, and vinegar soaking. The one that worked the most effectively was bleach, as this killed 99.9% of the bacteria on the cloth. Paper towels make a great alternative as they are single use and do not gather bacteria in the same way.
2. Reusable shopping bags. It’s fantastic that we are no longer using plastic bags, and that we have moved onto reusable ones, but there is one thing that is easy for us to forget; cleaning them. Leaking foods, little pieces of debris, and general use cause a build–up of bacteria and germs over time.
The canvas bags can be put in the washing machine and put on a regular cycle to kill bacteria, and the insulated ones can be wiped down with disinfectant wipes after each use. The nylon ones can be hand washed in a tub of warm soapy water. It can be thrown in the wash, but hand washing is more effective.
3. Cutting boards. Wood is exceptionally porous, which means that E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus can seep into the wood very easily. Experts say that there are 200 times more fecal bacteria on them than a toilet seat, so cleaning it well is a must.
If you use water and dish soap on the wood, it can weaken the surface fibres, which makes it even more susceptible to bacteria and germs. Instead, you should consider wiping them down with undiluted white vinegar after every use.
This is able to eliminate bacteria quickly and effectively without weakening the wood. You can also spread baking soda over it and then add vinegar before wiping it off in order to deodorize it. Plastic cutting boards should be scrubbed with a baking soda paste (just add water) and then rinsed with hot water.
4. Washing brushes. It’s so easy to leave these to fill with bacteria, and it will nestle right down between the bristles without you even thinking about it. Usually, these are for washing the dishes, so they also have old food particles wedged between them.
Over time, these will rot, and more bacteria will grow; not to mention you are sure to see quite a few flies. You should wash these thoroughly with hot water after every use, and a bleach or undiluted white vinegar wash are often the best ways to disinfect them for future use.
5. Mops and buckets. Most homes have a mop and bucket, but they are also one of the dirtiest ways to clean your floors. Personally, I prefer using a steam cleaner as these clean while also killing bacteria. I have quite a few guides on them as well if you fancy checking one out.
However, if you want to use a traditional mop, you need two buckets. One should be for the detergent, and the other for rinsing. That way, the mop stays cleaner than it usually would, and you aren’t spreading grime across your floors. Still not 100% clean, but much better than a single bucket.
Cleaning your home is something that I explore in greater detail in the next section, but I am going to give you an idea for safe ways to decontaminate the kitchen here. This is an especially useful thing to know if you have children or pets.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to disinfect is to place all of your cutlery and utensils into a tub of boiling water after they have been washed. This is a great way to kill bacteria and sterilize the utensils.
You can also do the same for sponges and cloths, as these tend to be filled with potentially harmful bacteria (even when they look clean). You can also use vinegar and alcohol-based cleaners to disinfect, and these tend to be the safest options around kids and pets. Similarly, lemon juice and hot water do a stellar job of keeping bacteria and germs under control without risk.
A lot of it comes down to being proactive though, little things like practicing safe handling. Jennifer Harder was kind enough to share some fantastic little tricks with us. You should always make sure to wash your hands with soap and hot water before and after handling raw meat or touching a surface.
Make sure you empty the bin regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria, germs, and flies. Clean up any spills or general mess quickly as well, as this means there is no time for an ideal habitat to be formed. It’s all about staying on top of the cleaning, and the little things, to keep your kitchen looking fantastic.
Cleaning the Dirtiest Places in Your Home
Of course, the kitchen is not the only dirty area in your home, and while I did talk about cleaning it in the above section, I go into even more detail here. This isn’t just about your kitchen though; it’s all over your home. Here are some of the dirtiest places and how you can keep them clean as well as how to kill household germs.
1. Kitchen sink. So much gunk goes into your kitchen sink. Even though it is constantly filled with soap and water, it is also where dirt and grime get washed from hands, and food gets rinsed from dishes. Raw chicken and pork, as well as vegetable scraps, are just some of the things you sink is likely to come in contact with on a regular basis.
It’s an easy place for germs and bacteria to build up, and that is why it should be disinfected at least once a week. Similarly, the sides, drain, and draining board need to be cleaned as well. What’s the best way to keep it clean though? Nate Masterson from Maple Holistics offered us some great advice. You can use baking soda to scrub away any residue within the sink and then soak it in white vinegar for a good 15 minutes.
This is because the baking soda is able to break up food particles without actually damaging the sink. You can even add some vinegar essential oil to mask the vinegar smell. Rinse it all out with hot water at the end, and it will be good as new.
2. Toothbrushes. The most important thing to remember here is that your toothbrush needs to be stored at the other end of the bathroom, as far away from your toilet as possible. It should also be upright so that the water drains away from the bristles. You should also ensure that the bristles of multiple toothbrushes are not touching each other.
This is because stale water is a great place for bacteria and germs to breed, and the reason it stays away from your toilet is so that fecal matter does not get splashed onto them. You should also consider soaking the head in mouthwash, as this can be the perfect way to eliminate germs. Similarly, the head or brush should be replaced after you are sick so that you do not infect yourself again.
3. Coffee maker. Every time you use your coffee machine, you should empty the water out so that it can be refilled in the morning. This is because water that is left to sit can go stale, leading to potential mould growth as bacteria settles on the surface. It can also lead to an awful, musty smell.
The whole thing should be wiped down and cleaned after every use to prevent the spread of bacteria, and that includes washing the coffee pot with hot soapy water. You must also throw away the filter or pods, as well as wipe down the outside and inside with a disinfectant wipe or damp cloth. Every three months run vinegar through your machine to clean it, and follow this with a few cycles of water.
4. Dishwasher. The worst thing you can do is overload the dishwasher. This is because the dishes will not be able to get clean, and you will be left with a horrible soapy residue afterwards. Not to mention the dishes will still be dirty. You might have to split it into two loads, but it is worth it to actually get clean dishes the first time.
Leave a little space in the dishwasher so that there is room for the soap to work and wash each of them. You should also check your dishwasher manual as this will actually give you some pretty amazing advice with regards to the best way to load it up. Another top tip; rinse every dish before you put it in the machine for the best results.
5. Shower curtain. You’re using this pretty much every day, and every day it gets wet and stays that way after the shower. While they are meant for this purpose, they are still the ideal habitat for mould to grow.
They should be washed and dried at least once a week to ensure that they are disinfected, and mould is prevented from growing on them. If they are left and mould is allowed to grow, it can be hard to get rid of as the bathroom is a generally damp environment.
6. Doorknobs and appliance handles. These are so easily overlooked, because we don’t really think about the germs and grime that can end up all over these. First, wipe over the area with a clean cloth to remove any hard residue and grime. Then, take a disinfectant wipe or clean cloth and scrub the area again to disinfect it. The same goes for light switches, which also need to be cleaned regularly.
Darla DeMorrow is a Certified Professional Organizer ®, owner of HeartWork Organizing (https://HeartWorkOrg.com), mom of 2, and author of the book series SORT and Succeed, which outlines five simple steps to help you organize stuff, time, information, money, and photos.
7. Stair railings. The banisters get sticky and dirty so quickly, especially if you live with kids. Not to mention all the dust they gather. They are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and when unwashed hands are running up them, it just gives them a massive bacterial boost. Wipe them down with a dusting cloth and then some disinfectant wipes. This will kill the bacteria and keep the railings looking lovely and clean.
8. Video game controllers and keyboards. I want to add your mobile phone to the list as well, because these three things are used in your daily life quite regularly. Therefore, they are also covered in germs. In fact, it is covered with approximately 2,700-4,200 units of it. Gross.
We don’t really think about the germs being spread to our game controllers, keyboards, and phones, and when we have been out and about all day, we are also bringing a lot into the house from the outside. You should be disinfecting these items at least twice a week to keep the bacteria at bay.
9. Ceiling fans. [These] are one of the dirtiest spots in a person’s house, due to it being a more difficult spot to get to. A time-saving cleaning hack that is also a safe solution includes:
Use a pillowcase to clean your fan: Instead of using a rag to clean your ceiling fan, which usually results in dust falling onto your furniture and floors, try using your pillowcase. Slip it in between the fan blades and swipe one at a time. You can then just throw your pillowcase into the washing machine. – Leanne Stapf, Vice President of Operations, The Cleaning Authority.
10. Pet toys. It’s no surprise that these harbour loads of germs. After all, they go everywhere with our dogs, and if you think too much about where your dog’s mouth has been, it gets a little gross. The germs on their toys can multiply quite quickly, which isn’t good for you or them.
So, it’s best to keep them clean regularly so that they can enjoy playtime. You can put soft toys in the washing machine, and the harder ones can be soaked in a mix of white vinegar and warm water. The really dirty ones can even be sprinkled with a little baking soda to get the grime out.
11. Toilet and bathroom. The bathroom is, of course, one of the dirtiest areas in the home – even if it is not always the worst. If you flush after every use, you can keep the U-bend clean and free from a build-up of bacteria and germs. You should also pour some bleach or general toilet cleaner in there every few days. Similarly, you should also be scrubbing the seat and rim in that time.
Don’t forget to clean the toilet handle as well, as it is often forgotten and one of the top places for germs to live. The bath, shower, sink, and grout should also be cleaned regularly to stop the spread of mould and germs. You can use natural cleaners like white vinegar to clean the surfaces. I actually have a fantastic shower cleaning guide that you might find helpful.
12. Hard floors and carpet. The best way to clean and disinfect your hard floors is with a steam mop or steam cleaner. They are so good at reaching down and killing bacteria quickly, while also providing a natural cleaning solution. Plus, they are able to remove dirt and grime dragged into the home by kids and pets which is a great bonus.
Germs in the carpet can also be killed effectively with a steam cleaner, as many of them come with a gliding head that allows them to sweep over the carpets without causing damage. You can also use a carpet cleaner that washes and dries it so that germs, dirt, and bacteria are removed quickly. Be warned, however, as you will be shocked and appalled by the amount of dirt that is pulled up.
One of the big bonuses to using a steam cleaner is that they are safe for kids and pets to be around, which is a really important feature. They don’t use harsh chemicals, just water that gets heated up and blasted out as steam to disinfect the area. It’s a safe alternative that won’t leave you feeling stressed about them getting their hands (or paws) on it.
13. Pet beds and litterboxes. These are also forgotten areas. Pet beds should be washed once a week, and vacuumed every single time you have it out. This gets rid of germs and bacteria that could make you (or your pet) sick, and also ensures that it is comfortable and clean for them to sleep in.
As for litterboxes, your cat is not going to use it if it is dirty or full. It’s like asking you to use a filthy toilet. It should be cleaned out every single day. The litter should be changed on a weekly basis, and the box itself washed out with hot water at the same time. This keeps it clean for your cat, and also means that they will keep using it so that you don’t find unexpected messes.
A bonus note for pets is that you should have a section of your home, likely your kitchen, that is dedicated to storing pet utensils and food. All of their items should be kept separate from yours for good storage practices to prevent the spread of bacteria. It’s just a useful habit to get into, and has the extra benefit of keeping your home organized too.
14. Laundry. I can hear you wondering how laundry can be dirty when it has just been washed. Well, when you leave a wet load in the machine germs start to gather. They should be transferred to their drying location immediately, as even 30 minutes without being hung up could mean they are better off being run through again.
You should also wipe down the interior of the machine (the drum) regularly to keep it clean and free from bacteria.
15. Microwave. The first time I owned a microwave was in university, and I never thought to clean it. I just assumed it didn’t get messy, and when I one day opened it up to find it full of mould, I realised how wrong I was. Microwaves are full of bacteria and germs, and when you leave them over time, it just gets worse and becomes a health hazard.
Cleaning the microwave is easy work though. You can wipe it down with a clean cloth to get rid of the lumps and grime from that exploded curry, but my favourite method is the steam cleaner. All you need to do is pour vinegar into it and then put it in the microwave. Follow the operation instructions, and it will release concentrated steam to melt all that gunk. You can find them here, and they are absolutely fantastic.
There are so many ways to clean your home, and loads of different tactics and techniques to go with it. While my advice is pretty solid, it can be helpful to hear it from an expert as well. That’s why I sourced a video from one of my favourite cleaning channels for you. Melissa Maker of Clean My Space is here to take you through seven of the best expert cleaning tips and tricks.
How to Wash Dishes the Right Way
What if I told you that you had been washing your dishes the wrong way this whole time? Our dishes harbour a lot of germs, so it’s vital they are cleaned properly. I will always believe that a dishwasher is more hygienic than sink cleaning, but that doesn’t mean that washing dishes by hand doesn’t get them nice and clean. It’s all about doing it the right way, and here are all the ways so many of us do it incorrectly.
1. You’re using too much soap! There is actually such a thing as too much soap when you are washing dishes. It can leave residue behind on your dishes, leaving them looking cloudy, and you may even end up eating them as a result. Less is actually more with dish soap.
2. You’re wasting water. Washing dishes by hand uses way more water than a dishwasher, even when you include rinsing the plates before loading them up. If you are washing your dishes by hand, turn the water off while you are soaping them up and save a little. Some even invest in a basin for washing and then rinse them with hot water after.
3. You’re not washing the sink regularly. The kitchen sink actually contains 100,000 more germs than your bathroom. Shocking right? You need to make sure you are washing and sanitizing your sink after every use, and you can read the previous section for some great advice on how to do that.
4. You’re not washing the dishes properly. When you hand wash the dishes, you might not be taking enough time to clean every corner properly; leaving food debris behind to gather bacteria. You also need to be careful with what you are using to wash your dishes.
For example, never use a harsh brush or sponge on a non-stick pan, or it will take the coating off. Similarly, do not put wood in the dishwasher or it will swell. Common sense with washing goes a long way.
5. Your water is too cold. You’re washing dishes to kill bacteria, and if the water is not so hot that you need to wear gloves, you aren’t cleaning them as effectively as you should be. If you are hand washing dishes, it needs to be hot, or you aren’t going to end up with clean crockery. As a bonus tip, wash anything that has touched meat last to avoid cross–contamination.
The Most Common Germs in the Home and What They Do
Here’s an interesting fact for you; studies have shown that there are some bacteria that are able to divide every 20 minutes when provided with the right nutrients and environment. This is one of the reasons the symptoms of illness often pop up quite quickly and unexpectedly. There have even been cases where over 340 different types of bacteria have been found on as few as 30 objects within homes.
It might seem shocking, but bacteria are a normal part of life; it’s the type of bacteria you need to worry about. Here are the most common forms found in the home:
- Staphylococcus aureus, or staph
- Yeast and mould
- Escherichia coli, or E. coli
- Faecal matter
1. Staph. The bacteria that cause these infections actually lives harmlessly on our skin all the time. It only becomes harmful when it enters our body; usually through a bite or cut. It spreads through things like toothbrushes, razors, and towels, as well as close skin contact. Washing your hands regularly is a great way to prevent it. Symptoms of a staph infection can include:
- Painful red lump or bump
- Hot and swollen skin (red)
- Sores, crusts, or blisters
- Sore, red eyelids, or red eyes
- Blood poisoning (rare)
- Toxic shock syndrome (rare)
2. Salmonella. You will find that this is present in contaminated eggs, poultry, and dairy, as well as contaminated fruits and nuts. Reptiles, amphibians, and birds can also carry the bacteria and pass it on to people. It is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and it can be prevented by practising good food safety as well as keeping your hands washed and clean. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
3. E. coli. This is a common bacterium found in human and animal intestines. There are loads of different forms of E. coli, and many of them are completely harmless. However, there are also some that can cause varying illnesses, including cystitis and gastrointestinal infections.
Washing your hands before contact with food or surfaces is an essential part of stopping it, and treatment (as well as symptoms) varies according to the type of E. coli that has been contracted.
4. Yeast and Mould. Both of these are quite normal within food and the home, and there are times when they can be beneficial. However, mould can cause serious reactions in those with asthma and allergies that may lead to hospitalization if they are severe enough.
It can cause lung infections, and even whole-body infections which can be debilitating. Yeast can cause awful skin infection if uncontrolled, as well as severe itching. If a yeast infection enters the bloodstream, it can become life-threatening, so it is important to get them treated.
How Do Germs Spread?
Germs are able to spread through a number of different ways, one of the most common being between people and surfaces. Keeping your hands and home clean is one of the best ways to stop this from happening, because you need to ensure that these surfaces are not a comfortable habitat for the germs to thrive on. The spreading of germs can depend on the following:
- The type of surface
- Lifestyle practices
- The way in which you clean
- Living habitats for the germs
These are the most common ways in which germs spread:
- Touching contaminated surfaces
- Touching contaminated people
- Coming into contact with contaminated sweat, blood, and saliva
- Coughing, sneezing, and breathing in contaminated air
By adopting the correct practices, you will be more than able to keep germs under control, and learning how they spread is a vital piece of information to have. In the next section, I go through the ways in which you can prevent the spread of germs and infection through proper cleaning techniques.
What is the Best Way to Prevent the Spread of Germs and Infection?
We know where all the germs are lurking, but now we need to think about how we are going to stop them from spreading throughout the home. Here are some fantastic preventative tips for stopping illness, germs, and general bacteria from making its way through every inch of our houses:
- Make sure you are up to date with your vaccination
- Wash your hands regularly
- If you are sick, stay home so that you do not spread your germs
- If you need to cough or sneeze, use a tissue or your arm. Make sure you turn away from other people.
- Use tissues instead of hankies, and throw them away immediately
- Wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, or use a tissue
- Use antibacterial gel on your hands when you are outside of the home
- For children, have them play with hard surface toys that can be washed easily
- Do not touch your face, as viruses can spread across your body that way
- Do not share cups, glasses, dishes, or cutlery
- Don’t share things like towels, lipstick, toys, or anything else that might be contaminated
- Keeping your home clean and disinfecting surfaces
A lot of it really is down to common sense, because other than that there is not a massive amount that can be done to prevent the spread of infection and germs. You just have to practice good hygiene, keep the home clean, and be mindful of others when you are outside. When you are sick, keeping yourself away from social interactions where possible will also help to keep the germs at bay.
What Helps Germs Multiply?
There are only four things that germs need in order to grow and multiply; moisture, a food source, warmth, and time. With these things combined, they become an unstoppable force, and that goes for areas around your home as well as in the kitchen.
It is why bathrooms are so susceptible to mould, because they provide bacteria with everything they need to truly thrive. Here are some interesting facts about the growth and multiplication of bacteria:
- A single bacterium can multiply to over two million in just seven hours
- The “danger zone” temperature at which bacteria grow best is between 5C and 63C
- They need the damp to grow, and without a good water or moisture supply, they will not be able to live and grow
What Temperature Kills Germs in the House?
This is the big question, and one that I am here to answer for you. The temperature you are looking for is 100C, which is the boiling point. It’s definitely too hot to handle when you are washing the dishes, which is why you use dish soap to scrub away the germs and bacteria. However, if you want to wash items and kill the dirt with water alone, you need to bring it to that steamy 100C.
Hot water is often the perfect cleaning aid because of the fact it can kill germs so effectively. It’s also why steam cleaners are so popular, as well as the fact that they are safe to use around kids and pets.
Even if you decide to use detergent, it is less effective without hot water there to help it out. It’s a strong natural solution, and you can even add things like white vinegar for disinfecting, or essential oils for a pleasant odour afterwards.
Interestingly, recent studies have shown that sunlight might actually be able to kill germs. Crazy stuff, right? The results were that homes with more natural light had half the germs of those without, and it didn’t matter if the windows blocked UV rays (which have been proven to disinfect).
The rooms that allowed UV into them were only slightly cleaner, to the point that the difference was barely noticeable. Scientists were surprised by the results, and it’s a great excuse to really start opening your curtains and blinds to let the light in.
How Does Hand Washing Prevent Communicable Diseases from Spreading?
“The best thing you can do is to practice safe handling in the first place. ALWAYS wash your hands with hot water and soap after handling raw meat and before touching any surface.” – Jennifer Harder, Founder & CEO of Jennifer Harder Mortgage Brokers
There have been bogus articles and reports that washing your hands does nothing to prevent disease from spreading, but I need to remind you that it absolutely does. Washing your hands regularly is so important for your health and well-being, but also for those around you. Just remember how to wash your hands:
- Step one: place your hands under hot water
- Step two: soap your hands up and massage it in thoroughly
- Step three: rinse your hands under the hot water
- Step four: dry your hands using paper towels or an air dryer
Here are the ways in which washing your hands helps to prevent communicable diseases from spreading, giving you more awareness on the topic:
- You are less likely to get sick when you touch your face if you have washed your hands recently
- Germs from unwashed hands can get into food and drinks, multiplying and potentially making them sick
- You can also spread germs through surfaces and objects that you have touched, or that others have touched, and regular hand washing reduces the risk of illness from this
- Hand washing can prevent conditions like diarrhea and vomiting, as well as eye and skin infections.
- Very few people use soap to wash their hands, even though soap is much more effective at removing germs
I’d also like to show you some important facts with regards to washing your hands, and the ones involving children should really highlight why it is so important to keep them washed and clean. To start, here are some facts about hand washing education and how it can help:
- Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%
- Reduces diarrhea illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%
- Reduces respiratory illnesses in the general population by 16-21%
- Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in children by 29-57%
Here are some further facts about hand washing and the spread of disease:
- Approximately 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrhea diseases and pneumonia. Both of these can be prevented with hand washing
- Washing your hands with soap could protect 1 in every 3 children who contract diarrhea, and 1 in 5 of those with respiratory infections
- By educating kids about hand washing in schools, attendance can be improved due to reduced illnesses
- Estimated global rates of hand washing after using the toilet are only 19%
- Hand washing also helps with the battle against antibiotic resistance
How Long Do Germs Live on Kid’s Toys?
It’s not always easy being a parent, and cleaning their toys is one of the last things on our mind. After all, when we can’t see something, it is really easy to forget. The thing is, germs live on toys for varying amounts of time; it all depends on what it is. It can vary between hours and days, with fungi having the longest lifespan and bacteria and viruses the shortest.
All you need to do is wash your kid’s toys regularly, and if they have just been ill, they certainly need to be cleaned to prevent them from getting sick again. A white vinegar and warm water solution are the best natural way to get rid of these germs, and you can add some baking soda with essential oils to deodorize them and leave them smelling fresh. It’s just as good as using bleach.
You can throw soft toys in the washing machine on a gentle cycle a lot of the time, although washing them by hand tends to be recommended. Just remember to use warm water so that the germs are killed off effectively. Many suggest weekly washing for toys, and if they have electronics, these should be wiped down with a cloth once a day for good measure.
The Ultimate Germ Cleaning Tips
Now you know where all of the dirtiest areas in the home are, how about some fantastic general cleaning tips for keeping dirt and grime away? Through my own research and help from respected experts, I have compiled an excellent and useful selection of hacks and tricks for killing germs and keeping things clean. Check it out; it might just change the way you scrub your home.
1. Bleach is often seen as the perfect way to sterilize your home and leave it feeling nice and clean. However, as Abe Navas from Emily’s Maids points out, this is not necessarily a safe option to use around pets and children.
Their solution is a pretty good one; alcohol. Pure alcohol kills everything in its path, and it is safe to use around your animals and little ones. Of course, you can’t drink it, but there are no toxic fumes, and it does just as good a job at cleaning the home.
2. You can also buy organic cleaners. These are sold by retailers, but they are made with natural ingredients instead of chemicals. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about mixing up solutions at home. These are also safe for use around kids and animals, so you can rest easy knowing that they won’t be inhaling anything that is potentially harmful. Amazon is actually a great place to find a wide variety of natural cleaners.
3. I actually want to share this fantastic video from the creator of Clean My Space, Melissa Maker. She talks about the difference between cleaners and disinfectants; further explaining the two-step cleaning method that is actually required when you use one. In short, cleaners clean but do no disinfect, and disinfectants disinfect but do no clean. So, you need to use them both. Check out this quick rundown.
4. Sanitizing dishes and clothes can also be done safely, and all you need is a dash of white vinegar to help you along. Put your washing in on a normal spin cycle, and then add some white vinegar to the load.
This acts as a natural disinfectant and will keep your laundry looking great. You can even add a dash of essential oil (fragrance of your choice) if you are afraid of a vinegar smell coming from the clothes. Most of the time you don’t even notice it though as it washes out quickly.
You can do the same with really manky dishes as well. Just fill the sink with hot water (I mean hot), and add a good dollop of white vinegar while it is running. Ensure the dishes are completely submerged and leave them for a few minutes (an hour if it is really bad) before draining the sink and rinsing them off. Then you can wash it with dish soap as normal, and it should be much easier, as well as disinfected.
5. Using a steam cleaner is something I am going to go on about again, and quite happily too. They are safe to use with children and pets, which is so important for many families, and they don’t need chemical detergents either. You can use them in the machine, but they really don’t need it.
The blasts of burning hot steam are enough to remove dirt, grime, germs, and bacteria from your floors effortlessly. I have so many models I could recommend, but Shark is my number one, and I have written about them quite a lot.
Hopefully, my detailed guide has been useful when providing you with all the information you need to really keep your home free from germs. It’s pretty incredible that the kitchen is the dirtiest place in the home, but when you really sit down and think about it, it makes sense. All the food preparation and rubbish in there make for the ideal bacterial home.
Of course, I want to reiterate that the purpose of this guide isn’t to make you afraid of germs. After all, so many of them are vital to our survival and health. However, it is important to be aware of the dangerous ones, the effect they can have on you, and why it is important to kill them.
I am a big fan of natural cleaners as well because they are safe for use around pets and kids. While I do use chemicals from time to time, I like to promote the natural ones more. Plus, they are often just as effective as their chemical counterparts.
What did you think of my germ-killing advice? Did it help you to clean your home more effectively, or are there areas that you felt we missed? We love hearing from you, so feel free to drop us a message in the comment section below.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.