I love that people tend to confide in me. Over the years, I have had almost complete strangers and rare acquaintances profess the oddest things. I don’t mind. I like to help. But I have noticed some trends in questions over the past few years. I won’t list them. You can infer what you like from this, but what I will offer are some easy suggestions to share if you find yourself in a similar and somewhat awkward confidante situation.
Avoiding Infections, Re-Infections, and Infestations: easy, simple steps to maintaining a healthy home.
Establish a WASH YOUR HANDS rule, FOR EVERYONE. And don’t apologize. Yes, even my daughters’ friends do it. A little warm water and soap go a long way to preventing illness.
- When you come in from school, work, or anywhere outside…
- After you use the bathroom…
- Before you eat…
- When you are done eating…
- If they get dirty, for ANY reason…
AROUND THE HOUSE
In The Bathroom:
- Replace the hand towel daily. Make it a habit (and an extra chore for the kids) to replace the dirty hand towel with a clean one at bedtime.
- In between entire bathroom cleaning. Use disinfecting wipes to clean the sink, bath, and toilet fixtures (and the seat); once per week.
- For the whole bathroom cleaning. Make it a habit of wiping down all bottles and containers (and fixtures). This includes shampoo, shave gel, and other containers.
- Toothbrushes. Disinfect them weekly with hydrogen peroxide and after any illnesses. Replace them with a new one when they show signs of wear (ends of brushes are bent), or every 6 months.
In The Kitchen:
- Replace the hand towel daily. Make it a habit to put the hand towel and any cleaning cloths in the hamper at bed time.
- Fruits and vegetables in the bins. Wash them and place them in separate containers, or re-wrap them loosely in plastic, for easy access; as soon as you purchase them. DO NOT touch them with your hands when placing them from the strainer into containers or re-packaging into the bins. Use tongs (or the re-packaging material) to move them.
- Sink, refrigerator, stove, and cabinet and drawer handles. Wipe them down at least once per week with mild soap and water, and/or disinfecting wipes.
In the Living Room and Bedroom:
- Do not rely on deodorant sprays to ‘clean’ couches and mattresses. Make it a habit of taking apart couches, cushions and all, and yes, your mattresses and vacuuming them. Use upholstery cleaner at least 1-2 times per year. Bugs don’t like to be bothered. That’s our house rules. Make their lives tough and they will die or move on to some other place more peaceful.
- Shower daily. Even if it is 5 minutes. Bacterial infections like MRSA and Staph, require extended periods of time (reason and opportunity, just like any crime) to set in. MRSA gets in through miniscule scratches such as dried or flaked skin and/or through open cuts. Washing daily with warm soapy water and taking care of open cuts by cleaning them and covering them will minimize the risk.
- Don’t re-wear clothing day after day. If you do, make sure to minimize exposure to parasites. Lice can only live for 24 hours without feeding. Scabies requires constant contact with the skin (at least 24 hours undisturbed) in order to imbed themselves under the first layer.
- A trick for jeans, sweaters, or other clothing you may not want to ‘over-wash’ is to put them in the dryer on low to medium heat (high heat if you suspect infestation) for 40 minutes with a wet washcloth and dryer sheet. This will ‘kill’ or deter anything that might have hitched a ride on those favorite clothes, and minimize the risk of contracting any nasty infestations
- Wash your face and moisturize it 2 times per day. It doesn’t matter the method. My rule, if you take care of your skin, it will take care of you. Feed it healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables, and other unprocessed food, and drink at least 6 to 8, 8 ounce glasses of water DAILY.
I hope these give you some ideas if you find yourself in a similar situation. It actually took us getting sick 2 times each before I figured out the ‘changing the hand towel’ routine. I was in the habit of changing it out once per week from back in my single days, but when 4 people are using the same bathroom… I learned that it’s best to change it out every day!
As a side-note, I am convinced that the bed bug craze is directly correlational to the introduction of a certain deodorant spray to the product market, but I’m busy. I don’t have time to prove that… I just thought I would mention it in case anyone else had noticed!
Please feel free to share your own tips. It’s tough keeping a house (and favorite clothing) clean with a teen and pre-teen in the house. I’m always looking for new ideas!