When we use the phrase “high traffic area” when talking about our home, we usually think of places that get a lot of foot traffic. But there are also “high touch” surface areas, ones that get touched a lot.
Surveys have shown that many people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, working around food or after coughing. A study done by the Hygiene Council of the UK found that 25% of their population handle food after “stroking their pets” without considering disinfecting their hands after they have touched them.
You may not realize it but there are some germs that can live for months in your home. C. difficile has shown to survive up to five months and Norovirus can survive for days or weeks on a hard surface.
So it’s important that high touch areas be cleaned and sanitized properly to prevent germs getting transferred from one person to another. Read on to learn how to clean germs from high touch areas.
Let’s start in the bathroom which is where you’d expect to find the germ-iest places in a home. Research shows that most people don’t use basic hygiene and men are the biggest offenders.
Bathroom faucet handles – Have you ever thought that you go straight from the toilet to the faucet handle to start washing your hands. The faucet handles are full of germs from the last person that used it. Faucets can be cleaned and sanitized simply with rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth. If you are looking to avoid germs in between cleanings, you can use a paper towel to turn the water on and off.
Toilet flush handle – This is another place that sees a lot of hand traffic, yet gets overlooked even during a regular cleaning. We are so focused on cleaning and disinfecting the toilet bowl that the flush handle can get overlooked. It’s very easy to sanitize with a quick spray of rubbing alcohol and a wipe with a microfiber cloth. In between cleanings you can avoid germs by using some unused toilet paper to flush the toilet.
Door knobs – All door knobs throughout the house are germ “havens”, but if someone isn’t practicing good hygiene, the doorknob in the bathroom is the worst offender in the home. All your door knobs should be cleaned and sanitized once a week with a disinfecting solution. In between cleanings you can avoid touching a germy door knob by opening the door with a paper towel or Kleenex.
We probably feel that our kitchens are the cleanest room in our homes. And they should be since we are preparing food for our families in this room. But the kitchen has THE germiest areas in your entire home. Worse than your bathroom! Let’s take a look at some of those places and find out how to keep them clean.
The handles on your refrigerator – It’s a funny habit that happens in most families. You enter the kitchen and go straight to the refrigerator to get a snack. The handles of your refrigerator are getting exposed to germs from school, work and the outside. The handles should be wiped down multiple times during the day, especially before and after fixing a meal. This routine will prevent cross contamination.
Kitchen sink faucet – Your kitchen sink is the germiest place in your entire home. It contains more germs than your toilet! And it contains bacteria that comes from wet rotting food. The kitchen sink faucets are an area that get lots of use from hands that are working in the kitchen to hands that are just grabbing a drink. These faucets need to be wiped down numerous times during the day to prevent cross contamination.
Hand towels – The hand towels in your kitchen are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. We tend to wipe our hands while cooking with raw food and other raw items. The towel is then used to dry our hands after we’ve washed them. This makes your hands subject to cross contamination. A simple solution is to always use a paper towel when working with raw foods and to only use the hand towel for drying washed hands.
Around the house
TV remote – I never considered how dirty a TV remote could be until a friend of mine and I spent the night in a hotel room. The first thing she did when we got into the room was to pull out a zip lock bag and popped the remote inside it. I was stunned. “What are you doing? “, I asked her looking extremely confused.
She told me that the TV remote is NEVER cleaned by the maid staff and she wasn’t looking to be exposed to the germs and bacteria of hundreds of other people. Ever since then, I’ve realized how dirty our remotes can be. A quick tip is to clean it with a quality microfiber that has been sprayed with rubbing alcohol. If someone in your home is sick, place their remote in a zip lock bag and throw the bag away at the end of the day so you prevent spreading the illness.
Hand rails on stairways – We subconsciously hold onto hand railings inside and outside of our home. There can be 50 or 60 exposures to germs on those hand rails every day. We should get into the habit of wiping the handrails every other day to keep them clean and free from bacteria.
Washing machine buttons –Our laundry is full of dirt, germs and bacteria from our workplaces and our own bodies. We use our hands to put the laundry into the washer and then we touch the buttons to start the machine. Your hands are full of the germs that were on your clothing and you transfer all of those germs onto the controls of your washer. Get into habit of wiping the controls with a simple disinfectant after using the machine.
Cleaning tools and aids should be clean and germ free or using them just spreads germs around your home. Germs and bacteria multiply quickly. One bacteria on a damp cloth can multiply to eight million in less than eight hours.
Mops – Mops are a breeding ground for mold, mildew and bacteria. If your mop has a moldy smell before you start to clean with it, you are not going to be cleaning, but instead spreading germs around. Purchase a mop that has a removable head or cover that can be placed in the washer and sanitized.
Reusable cloths – All reusable cloths should be clean and disinfected after each use. If they are wet or damp, put them into the washer right away. Dry dirty cloths should be cleaned in hot water before reuse.
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For more tips from our DIY green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert, visit greencleaningcoach.com