Among the other benefits a clean home provides, it also keeps you healthier. While there’s no surefire way to avoid being sick, there’s a lot you can do within your own home to keep the bugs at bay. Even if you already live with someone who has come down with a virus, the bug can be kept from spreading by making sure your home is regularly disinfected. This is particularly important if you happen to live with young children, the elderly, or anyone else who could be at extra risk if they fall ill. It’s not much fun to clean germs off a countertop twice a day, but most would agree it’s a better choice than getting sick.
How to disinfect surfaces and kill germs
Step 1: Use an effective anti-bacterial spray. Disinfecting countertops and other surfaces is a relatively quick and painless activity.
Apply the disinfectant spray liberally onto the surface you want to clean, then rub it down with a kitchen sponge or rag cloth, scrubbing in short circles.
There’s a wide range of EPA-approved disinfectants that can help you get the job done. These sprays are available practically everywhere, so it shouldn’t be hard to get your hands on one.
If you prefer the DIY route, there are a variety of homemade concoctions you can make, including ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, and essential oils, that you can use to neutralize germs. This natural remedy is more environmentally friendly compared to a spray bought in a store or online.
For instance, mixing equal parts white vinegar and water together creates a diluted cleaner with enough acidic heft to do its job effectively. For an extra boost, you can put the mixture in the microwave and heat until warm before loading it in the spray.
Step 2: Prioritize disinfecting high-traffic surfaces. It may not be practical to clean every square inch of your home every time someone gets sick. It’s more effective to instead focus on the surfaces you know will be touched frequently by multiple people throughout the day.
Telephones, doorknobs, and even mouse and keyboard setups should be given highest priority; it isn’t unreasonable to give these surfaces a quick spray once a day if someone in the house is sick. Other high traffic surfaces, such as tabletops, should be cleaned at least once every few days throughout the flu season.
Step 3: Clean or replace your cleaning tools. Following a single thorough use, a mop can spread more bacteria than it wipes up.
Quite often, well-swept homes are technically “dirtier” under the microscope than messy places, simply due to the fact that the cleaning tools spread germs. Mops and rags should be put in the washer following a few uses at most, depending on the extent of the dirtiness. Kitchen sponges should be replaced frequently if used on a regular basis.
- Tip: If you want to save on purchasing more sponges, putting it in the microwave for a minute will kill the present germs; this should allow you to get at least another round with the current one before getting another.
Step 4: Disinfect your bedsheets. Although washing your sheets should be done once a week to keep them clean, you should wash the sheets more frequently of anyone who has been sick.
- Tip: Adding mattress covers to your bed can minimize issues with dust; this can prevent feeling sick if you have a pre-existing respiratory condition such as asthma.
How to “sickproof” your home and family
Step 1: Clean out your refrigerator frequently. If you regularly open your fridge door to find rotting food and a sickly odor to go along with it, it’s a sign you’re too lax with the cleaning. Food can go badly in a refrigerator, and the potential buildup of mold is a valid health concern when it’s so close to your food.
Once a week, go through each item in your fridge and check to see if it’s keeping fresh. Anything that’s gone bad should be thrown out immediately, and the shelf it was sitting on should be sprayed and disinfected. As grime can accumulate in the pockets and corners of the fridge, a top-to-bottom cleaning of the fridge should take place every one to two months.
Take all of your stored items out and disinfect every surface before putting it back together. Refrigerators tend to have removable shelving units; you can take these out and clean them under the sink or in the bathtub.
Step 2: Close the toilet seat before you flush. When a toilet is flushed, the rush of water can cause a horde of bacteria to spray across the toilet bowl and beyond.
This is every bit as gross as it sounds, and despite being unseen, the bacterial spread opens up the possibility of someone getting sick. Fortunately, this can be avoided by closing the toilet lid shut before you flush.
Step 3: Eliminate potential vermin hotspots. In many cases, the appearance of unwanted pests in a home is preventable. Rats, flies, and cockroaches are all naturally attracted to food sources; when food is left out overnight or a dining area isn’t cleared after eating, it’s essentially a beacon for critters to come set up shop.
In addition to the other troublesome issues that vermin can cause, their germs and droppings can make you sick. Don’t leave food out for more than a few hours. In addition, make sure any garbage bags with food byproducts are sealed completely or disposed of within a few days.
Step 4: Use a humidifier. Surprisingly enough, viruses (like influenza) have been found to react poorly to humid environments, limiting their spread and effectiveness.
Step 5: Wash your hands. Washing your hands thoroughly throughout the day is easily the most effective way you can prevent the spread of bacteria and illness, and considering how easy it is, there’s no excuse not to take it seriously.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before meals and after using the bathroom. If you or someone you’ve been in contact with is sick, you should wash your hands more frequently to eliminate whatever bacteria you may have picked up.
Step 6: Try to avoid close contact with someone who is sick. You shouldn’t need to go to extreme lengths, but a certain degree of quarantine from someone who is sick can help keep the illness from spreading to everyone else.
Whether this includes wearing a face mask or the sick person simply sticking to their bedroom depends on the people involved and vulnerable factors such as small children living in the home.
How to protect yourself from “Sick Building Syndrome”
Step 1: Diagnose your home. Sick Building Syndrome refers to a health issue that is caused by a problem with the house itself. Mold and toxic materials such as asbestos typically fall under this umbrella, as well as maintenance-related issues like a faulty ventilation system.
Sick Building Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, especially if there is nothing visibly wrong. However, there’s a good chance that there’s something wrong with your house if people only tend to feel unwell while they’re inside.
Get your house tested for mold and other issues. Asbestos is a common complaint for houses built prior to 1980 so if your home was made before then you could ask the pro to check carefully for asbestos. In many cases, a mold remediator (or “environmental hygiene consultant” as they’re often called) will be able to check for a number of issues. Even if a mold infestation other problem isn’t clearly visible, an air sample can be taken for lab analysis to check for toxins.
These samples can be fairly expensive, ranging from $30 to $150 in addition to other inspection fees, but it can be worth avoiding the thousands paid for an advanced removal later on.
Step 2: Remove any mold infestation as soon as it is found Mold growths are practically inevitable, especially in older homes and humid environments.
Left unchecked, a small growth can bloom into a major infestation, turning the air toxic for humans and animals. Mold poses significant health concerns even early on, but it’s usually easy to detect if you know what to look for. It’s usually dark in color, typically appearing in corners and areas prone to moisture like showers.
It can blend in with dirty easily, making it a lot easier to detect on clean surfaces. Darkened wood, dampness and a generally musty odor are all potential signs that mold is nearby.
While any sign of mold should be treated seriously, smaller growths can be reasonably treated on your own, provided you wear gloves and a respirator mask for protection. Mold can be scrubbed away with a sponge and ordinary household cleaners.
Whether you address a mold issue on your own or hire a mold remediator ultimately depends on the extent of the problem. should be called in if the mold infestation encompasses ten square feet or more. As a generally cited guideline, mold removers should be hired if the infestation encompasses a surface area greater than ten square feet.
Mold growths are sometimes unavoidable, but you can minimize the trouble if an infestation is caught and wiped out at an early stage. Learning to spot signs of mold and addressing it promptly will save a lot of money in the long run. Professional mold removal prices usually begin around $500, and that’s just for the milder cases.
Getting to the point of hiring a mold remediator is almost always preventable; needless to say, it’s in the best interest of your wallet to nip any infestation while they’re still easy to manage.
Step 3: Clean out your HVAC system. Other than the usual toxins like asbestos and mold, problems with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are the most frequently cited causes of a Sick Building Syndrome.
Ventilation systems can amass a lot of dust and grime, and this can cause problems if it gets to the point where it affects circulation. Whether or not you’ve had problems with the air, you should clean out the AC filter at least once every three months. If you have reason to believe there is something wrong with the interior ventilation, you may wish to get an inspection.
Step 4: Wash the carpets. Although it’s all too easy to overlook carpets, they’re a perfect place for bacteria and dust to collect. In sufficient levels, the buildup can make people sick.
Cleaning carpets does more than make them look good; it can prevent illness as well. Done professionally, you’re probably looking at a couple hundred dollars to get your house carpets cleaned. Your local directory should have a variety of contractors to choose from; you can also hire a cleaner through Amazon Services.
While there’s no method to eliminate the risk completely, a significant percentage of contracted illnesses could be prevented if proper measures are taken to sterilize your home. While keeping your surfaces disinfected could require daily attention, this habit is usually pretty easy to pick up and commit to. People are often so busy with their current obligations that the added routine can seem like too much of a hassle. If you find yourself in this position, just remember: 10 minutes of casual cleaning per day could save you days of being sick in bed.