Before you panic, it’s important to remember that many germs—millions of them, in fact—are essential for our survival. BUT, during the cold and flu season, I wanted to give you some tips on where germs hide.
- Steering wheels of children coin-operated rides
- Shopping cart handles
- Vending machine slots
- Bath toys
- Baby walkers
- Telephone handset
- Computer keyboards
- Television remote control
- Carpeting, especially wall-to-wall
- Door handles and door bells
- Cell phones
- DIAPER CHANGES: Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after each and every diaper change.
- DOORKNOBS: Infection-causing germs can linger on doorknobs, especially during cold and flu season. Remember to clean them daily or whenever visitors stop by to visit your baby.
- STUFFED ANIMALS: Dust mites love to hide inside stuffed animals and other plush toys. Wash Teddy and his soft friends weekly on a gentle cycle-especially during the winter season. Or if Teddy can stand a little more winter cold, put the stuffed pal in the freezer once a week to kill the mites.
- TAKE OUT THE TRASH: Protect the air quality in a baby’s room all winter long by taking out the trash frequently, using a tightly covered diaper pail, keeping pets out of the nursery, and, if possible, choose hardwood floors over dust-and-odor harboring carpets.
- FLUSHING: According to BabyZone.com, “”Flushing the toilet with the lid up can send drops of aerosolized [fecal] matter onto toothbrushes, combs and brushes, as well as faucets, sinks and counters.” You can keep germs at bay by sanitizing toilet lids, bowls and seats weekly with a germicidal cleanser.” Wear gloves to protect your hands from water or surface contact, and always use a rinse-able brush or disposable cloth (never a sponge).
- LAVO LOS MANOS: It’s recommended that when you wash your hands — with soap and warm water — that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. That’s about the same time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice! According to Parents.com, “Nearly 22 million school days are missed each year because of the common cold. Teach your family to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds (sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice), especially when one of you is ill. This will help prevent spreading sneeze and cough droplets through contact.”
- SHOES: Your winter boots protect your feet, but they don’t protect your home from the germs they track inside, so put your boots somewhere they can dry off.
- TOYS: Usually, a nontoxic cleanser like soap and water or hydrogen peroxide does the trick. Cold viruses can live for days or even weeks on plastic, vinyl, or metal surfaces such as toy cars (and many germs that cause diarrhea can survive on dry surfaces for months!). Clean toys regularly in the dishwasher or with dish washing soap and warm water, rinsing thoroughly—especially if a sick friend comes for a play date.
The most germ-infested spot you (and your kids) touch every day is not at the playground or in your bathroom, but on the average kitchen table.
- SPONGES: Kitchen sponges are the top source of germs in your whole house, and nobody wins when you “clean” counters and dishes with a dirty sponge. Zap a damp sponge in the microwave for two minutes, or run it through the dishwasher to clear out the germs before you wipe down surfaces.
- GLASSWARE: Remember that cold and flu are most easily transmitted through contact with germs on the rims of drinking glasses. Avoid accidently sharing glasses at home this winter.
- RING-A-DING: According to Parents.com, “Telephones can carry upwards of 25,000 microbes per square inch. If you’re chatting while cooking, get into the routine of wiping down the phone along with the counters and sink every night.”
- CUTTING NAILS: We all do it – cut our nails in our bedroom, don’t deny it! Did you know shorter fingernails harbor fewer germs than long nails, and unpolished nails stay cleaner than manicures? Stick with short, unpolished nails during flu season (if you can).
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