Beating Household Germs with Natural Cleaners

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Cleaning tips by Cleaningsure - how to kill germs at home and the best way to clean after illness.

Household germs cause serious health problems, especially in cold weather when people stay indoors most of the time. Viruses tend to spread in closed spaces where people are in close contact, making regular cleaning and good hygiene especially important. Here are some tips to beat household germs, prevent the spread of viruses, and stay healthy during the winter months.

Focus on Areas Where Germs Hide

Germs not only spread from one person to another but by touching contaminated surfaces. Some areas around the house contain more germs and require extra care, especially areas with high traffic and those that get touched more often. Some of the places where bacteria hide are the computer keyboard, kitchen sink, cutting board, and washing machine. Other bacterial hotspots to focus on are the kitchen counters, bathroom faucet handles, coffee maker, pet bowl, and toothbrush holders. One study by NSF International found out that cutting boards, countertops, kitchen sinks, and dish rags and sponges have the highest germ count around the house.

Common bacteria found at home are Pseudomonas, E. coli, and Streptococcus Mutans. E. coli is often found on fruits and vegetables such as apples, tomatoes, and lettuce but researchers also found thriving communities on kitchen surfaces such as counters, appliance handles, and faucets. In fact, any surface that people touch with dirty hands may become a bacterial hotspot. If you are panicking already and your kitchen or bathroom is in a dire state, you may want to contact professional cleaners and ask for a deep clean. Otherwise, you can try some tested home cleaning formulas that can effectively eliminate germs of different kinds.

Types of Cleaners to Use

Hot water and soap help eliminate grime and dirt as well as some germs but you can also use disinfectants. First use water and soap to remove dirt and spills and then apply disinfectant. You can either use a multi-purpose disinfectant or make one yourself by mixing ½ cup of bleach into a 1 gallon /4 litres/ of water. Use a spray bottle to spray on contaminated surfaces and leave for about 5 minutes. Then wipe down with a clean cloth and let it air dry.

Some products found in your pantry are also effective in killing germs. White vinegar, for example, can be used to eliminate Shigella, Salmonella, and E. coli according to assistant professor Donna Duberg from the Saint Louis University. Vinegar can also be combined with essential oils such as basil, thyme, and rosemary. Basil, for example, has been found to eliminate Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Avoid essential oils if you or any of your family members have allergies or asthma, however, as they are known to aggravate symptoms and trigger asthma attacks.

Other products that can be used to reduce germs include hydrogen peroxide and lemon. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide is not effective against staphylococci as they break it down to oxygen and water. Lemon is also less effective than commercial grade cleaners and homemade vinegar solutions.

Cleaning after Flu

If someone had the flu recently, you may want to launder all clothing, blankets, and sheets that have been used or touched. Make sure that you launder on high heat to destroy virus cells. Run laundry through the dryer, including comforters and pillows. Clean floors with a steam mop or if you don’t have one, you can use professional cleaning services to clean your carpets and hardwood floors. Use antimicrobial solutions to disinfect all surfaces but make sure that they are approved for use against noroviruses, including Influenza A virus. Some people also use tea tree oil and vinegar but homemade solutions are not as effective in killing norovirus. Again, essential oils must be avoided in homes with allergy and asthma sufferers. The surfaces and areas that you should disinfect include the window parts, lamp switches and lamps, faucets, and door handles, knobs, and fronts.

Other surfaces to clean after flu are recommended by Cleaningsure are:
*Dishwasher, oven, freezer and fridge handles
*Buttons and oven knobs
*Humidifier knobs
*Radiator valves
*Remote control

Make sure that you clean all surfaces which get touched a lot, including the kitchen counters and appliances.Alternatively you can use professional cleaning company as Cleaningsure.

Viruses are known to live the longest on non-porous, hard surfaces such as railings, door knobs, and light switches. These should be disinfected regularly during an illness. Wipe down with a disinfectant and microfiber cloth to kill germs.
In general, anything that is frequently touched should be cleaned, especially if you have young children. The bathroom requires extra care as bodily fluids are known to transmit the flu virus. If you have several bathrooms in your house, infected family members can use a separate bathroom. And if you feel weak after the flu and are short of time with tasks piling on your list, you may want to contact local cleaners to help you disinfect and clean your house.

What Else to Do

To keep your home safe and healthy, it is important to keep bacteria at bay. Many bacteria are harmless but others can be a health hazard, especially for persons with compromised immune systems. Leading pathologist and microbiologist Philip Tierno recommends changing towels after every three uses even if you are not sick. Towels quickly become hotspots for bacteria, especially if you keep them in the bathroom where air is moist. They also have urinary and saliva secretions, dead skin cells, and fungi. If you notice any odour, this is a sign of bacterial growth. Bed sheets should also be changed frequently or at least once a week. Dust mites and other allergens found on bed sheets cause asthma symptoms and exacerbate allergies. Using water-proof allergy barriers on pillows and mattresses also helps. In fact, a recent study published in Allergy found that 4 to 17 fungi species live on synthetic and feather pillows. Finally, regular hand washing is the key to protecting yourself from viruses, especially before touching your face and eating.

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Stanislav Dimitrov
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