The last several weeks or so, it seems like everyone I know has had the flu or a cold. My husband and I keep passing a cold back and forth, and since I'm pregnant, this is definitely not fun at all and I feel like I'm doing everything in my power to try to disinfect myself and my home. I could buy stock in Purell and Kleenex at this point, y'all. I decided to see what else I could do to keep my home as germ free as possible, and found 11 surface areas in your home you're forgetting to sanitize. Though I've done some of these, a few I didn't think about, and it may be why our house is like the plague these days. Time to go buy some more Purell and some Lysol wipes.
Flu and cold season has been bad everywhere, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this has been the most widespread and terrible flu researchers have seen in years, reaching almost all 50 states. That's some scary stuff, and we are still just in the month of January. Before feeling like you should be either quarantined to your home, go out in a bubble, or sanitize guests and your babysitter before they enter, check out some of these areas to disinfect around the house — you might be forgetting a couple.
1. Bathroom Accessories
Not a surface area, but something commonly neglected, is your toothbrush and toothbrush holder. Especially when you’re sick, it’s important to switch out your toothbrush and clean that toothbrush holder. There’s a lot of bacteria that can build up in that damp bathroom and around that brush that goes in your mouth. Also while you’re in there, wipe down those faucets and swap out those hand towels. According to WebMD, “Half of all bathroom faucets have cold and flu viruses when someone has a cold or flu.” Also, it might be a good idea to designate a hand towel for the sick person in the family so you're not all using the same towel.
2. Light Switches
This includes on the walls and even light switches on lamps. Basically, if you’re sick or anyone in your family is sick, and they’ve touched something, it’s better to be safe than sorry and wipe it down. Germs can linger for quite a while on things, and you don’t want to pass that cold back and forth around your entire family.
3. Tables & Countertops
All tables and countertops in your home should be sanitized — dining room tables, desks, end tables, night tables, etc., as they all tend to hold cold and flu viruses, according to WebMD. This is because they’re touched so frequently and are not wiped down enough.
Have kids who love to touch anything and everything and they seem to constantly have a runny nose? Might be a good idea to inspect those walls for stray boogers and wipe them down with some sanitizer that won’t screw up your paint. Don’t see any snot residue? Wipe them down anyway. I’ve heard Fabuloso works well for disinfecting, and it smells pretty good to boot.
The perfect height for little hands and fingers, this often overlooked area of your home could be a breeding ground for germs. Dust, dirt, little hands and even sometimes mouths are all over those baseboards. Make sure they’re as clean and sanitized as can be before your crawler decides to go in for a taste.
6. Door Handles, Including Your Refrigerator
How many times a day (or evening) do you open and close your fridge? If you’ve had a cold or the flu, it’s even more imperative that you sanitize it at night before you go to bed. Coughing and sneezing while reaching in to get that orange juice? The refrigerator door handles have been compromised. And don’t forget about door handles throughout your home. Think about how many times a day you and your family touch those. Plus it takes two seconds to wipe them down with a wipe and you’ll feel clean and responsible at the end of the day for doing something so easy.
As someone who works from home, I tend to work while I’m sick a lot. Even when I don’t feel like it, it’s really important to remind myself to wipe down my desk, and especially my keyboard and mouse, after a long day. Even though I sanitize my hands every time I sneeze (which last week was like every two minutes) before touching my keyboard, I figure you can never be too careful. When in doubt, wipe that stuff down.
Someone been sick in bed for a few days? Better wash and sanitize those sheets and pillowcases. If possible, try using a disinfectant on your mattress and mattress pad cover. Those can harbor germs, too. Also, if possible, toss all stuffed animals in the laundry, too. If you can’t wash them, keep them up and away for a while, “to let viruses on its surface die,” WebMD noted. Maybe sanitize that headboard while you're in there, too, it couldn't hurt right?
9. Your Car
Not really part of your home, but an extension of it. If you’ve had a cold or the flu and have driven your car, you may want to wipe down your steering wheel and door handles (inside and out). While you’re at it, disinfect that radio, too, whether it’s touch screen or not. Don't forget the seat belts.
10. Household Items
Keys, the coffee maker, and even purses need disinfecting. There was a study performed on women’s purses at a local mall where the purses were swabbed with cotton swabs and then processed at a local lab, according to Advanced Biomedical Research. One out of four purses contained E. coli. If E. coli can live on purses, couldn’t the flu virus live there, too? Since you touch your keys and coffee maker every day, these definitely need to be sanitized if you or someone in your family has a cold or flu.
And the biggest culprits for home items that need to be sanitized are your remotes, your cell phones, and home phones. Buzzfeed reported on an employee performing tests to see what types of germs and bacteria were on everyone’s cell phones and found that “100 percent of the phone cultures grew a lot of germs.” The article noted they apparently didn’t even test for viruses, like the flu or STIs because based on their findings about germs, they were afraid to do so. Many phones tested positive for MRSA, Staph, E. coli, and Candida. So. Gross. And if you use your phone while you’re in the bathroom, it doesn’t even matter if you wash your hands after. All that bacteria is now on your phone and will get on your hands after touching it again.
If your baby is crawling around on their hands and knees, it's a pretty safe bet they'll be putting all that dirt, germs, and bacteria in their mouths when they inevitably stick their fingers and hands in there a billion times a day. It's no small feat, but try your best to disinfect the floors when you can, as often as you can.
The UK National Health Service (NHS) noted that the flu virus can last on surfaces for 24 hours, and the flu lasts on door handles, clothing, and tissues for 30 to 45 minutes. That may not seem like a long time, but think about how often you touch these things on a daily basis then buy some sanitizing wipes and get to town. Hopefully cold and flu season will leave us soon. And until then, be well.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.