You can’t free your home from germs and bacteria. But you can reduce contamination to a level that is not harmful to your health. How? In this guide, we’ll talk about the importance of hygienic cleaning and sanitizing and some of the best practices that can help you keep a clean home and fight infections.
What is home hygiene and everyday cleanliness?
Most people think that the toilet is the dirtiest part of a house. But the truth is, germs and bacteria lurk in almost every area of your home – from your favorite sofa to your precious carpet, desk, cabinets, and kitchen sink.
Infectious diseases can be caused by bacteria. Many common illnesses, such as gastroenteritis, skin infections, strep throat, diarrhea, and trachoma are caused by bacteria, many of which can be found in your home. Among the most common bacteria found in indoor air are Micrococcus, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, and Pseudomonas which can cause various health problems, including infections.
Practicing personal hygiene is your first defense against infectious diseases. However, it is equally important to practice hygienic cleaning to ensure optimal protection against germs and viruses. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, various studies have shown that flu virus can live and potentially infect a person within 48 hours after being deposited on the surface.
Hygienic cleaning refers to a set of practices geared towards reducing the spread of infections. It involves two steps:
● Identifying time and places that pose a risk
● Applying suitable hygiene to break the chain of infection
It’s different and more intensive than regular home cleaning which involves mopping, wiping, dusting, and washing surfaces. Since microbes are invisible, keeping surfaces visibly clean is not enough. You also want to make sure that they are completely sanitized.
Practicing hygienic cleaning is your best tool against infections, allergies, asthma, and many other illnesses. Carpets, upholstery, or bedding are breeding grounds for dust mites which can lead to an occasional runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and other symptoms. In severe cases, dust mites can cause cough, sneezing, congestion, and severe asthma attack.
Apart from dust mites, pet dander and mold which lurk in various surfaces of your home can trigger allergic reactions.
Easy Steps to Fight Infections
Below are some of the best home hygiene practices to protect your family against infections:
Disinfect bathroom areas.
Generally, you want to disinfect your bathroom once a week. Deep cleaning bathroom areas include the following steps:
● Clean all your bathroom surfaces with soapy water. Be sure to wash the toilet surfaces, sink, tub, faucet, handles, and the doorknob. Rinse thoroughly after.
● Sanitize surfaces using a commercial disinfectant or a bleach solution (1 teaspoon in one quart of water). Spray all surfaces with the solution and let air-dry completely.
● Add one cup of liquid bleach to the bowl. Scrub the toilet bowl with a brush and soak the bowl with the bleach for at least 10 minutes.
● Disinfect the floor by mopping it with bleach.
● Use wipes to wipe off the mirror, bathroom furniture and décor, and fixtures.
Employ living room hygiene practices.
Your living room/family area is another hotspot for germs. Regular cleaning and sanitizing should keep the disease-causing microorganisms at bay.
● Vacuum clean, sweep or mop the floors every day.
● Change the curtains regularly as they tend to get dirty because they come in contact with outdoor pollution.
● Wash the sofa covers and the cushions at regular intervals.
● Use a rag or mat at the entryway to catch dirt and grit. Replace it regularly.
● For furniture and upholstery, only use the cleaning product specifically formulated for them.
Clean your bin area.
Nobody wants to take the rubbish out, much less clean the bin. But if you keep your bin unemptied for a fortnight, the level of extremely harmful bacteria can go up by 600%. Follow these steps to clean your bin area:
● Wipe clean the lid using medical wipes or spray a couple of times per week.
● Give your trash bin a thorough wash once a week using an anti-bacterial disinfectant. Make sure to wear gloves every time.
● Wash your hands well after.
● Use a plastic can liner to control trash spills and leaking.
Keep your laundry clean and fresh.
Unfortunately, the usual laundry detergent you use for your normal washing cycles is not enough to kill germs in your laundry. Essential laundry hygiene includes the following:
● Wash the same types of clothes together.
● Don’t allow damp clothes to sit around in the laundry bin or washing machine.
● Air-dry or machine-dry clothes as soon as they come out of the machine.
● Use the highest wash setting that you can for your fabrics.
● Wash the same types of clothes together.
● Clean your washing machine after use with soda crystals or dishwasher tablets on a hot wash.
Do not share cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery.
Wash dishes and cutlery properly using the sterilizing cycle in the dishwasher, if available.
Necessary Equipment and Materials
Cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. Cleaning involves removing dirt, grime, and other visible stains. Cleaning does not prevent the spread of bacteria. Disinfecting kills organisms (bacteria, viruses, and parasites). It is necessary for preventing the spread of infections in your household.
Below are the necessary equipment and materials for disinfecting your home:
Disinfectants are chemicals used to control, prevent, or destroy microbes on surfaces. There are different types of disinfectants and the most common ones used for home hygiene cleaning are alcohol and acid (acetic acid, citric acid).
A cleaner-disinfectant (such as disinfecting wipes) eliminates the need to wash the surface with soap and water, which makes it a good cleaning tool for your household. You can use them to sanitize kitchen countertops and bathroom surfaces.
Natural or homemade disinfectants are also available, such as hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar.
Essential tools and supplies for cleaning and disinfecting are:
● A good sponge
● White towels
● Microfiber cloths
● Spray bottles
● Broom, dustpan, and mop
Replace your standard furnace filters with high-efficiency filters to get rid of indoor air pollutants and contaminants, including tiny intruders like mold spores and pet dander. This type of filters is more expensive than the traditional ones but they last for three months.
These can help remove dust, gasses and other contaminants in your home.
Cleaning your home is not enough if you want to prevent the spread of infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Cleaning only address visible dirt and clutter. Disinfecting eliminates the tiny intruders – dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, pollen, viruses, and bacteria that can put your family’s health at risk.
There are home hygiene practices that can keep the level of germs down to a significant level, from disinfecting bathroom areas to cleaning your trash bin and disinfecting your laundry.
To reduce the likelihood of infections in your household, using the right cleaning and disinfecting tools and supplies is necessary. In addition to your cleaning staples – broom, mop, vacuum, soap, and water, you also need disinfecting tools and equipment, such as disinfectants (can be commercial or homemade), furnace filters, and air scrubbers.
By implementing these home hygiene practices, you’ll have peace of mind that your family is always safe and healthy.