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By: Alison Jacobson
Posted on: Mar 12, 2020

The best defense against viruses is still the basics

Our guest blogger Alison Jacobson, The Safety Mom, is back again this week to talk about - you guessed it...tips for protecting yourself and your home against viruses. Read on for Alison's tip towards proactive steps for a creating a cleaner home.

The best defense against viruses is still the basics – hand washing and a clean home

The wide-spread panic about the coronavirus which has led to a run on face masks and hand sanitizer has forced the US Surgeon General Jerome Adams to issue the statement: “STOP BUYING FACE MASKS! They’re not effective.” And while hand sanitizer is good to have on hand, when you’re at home or have access to water, good old-fashioned hand washing is your best bet.

The best defense against viruses including the common cold is what moms have known for generations:

  • The time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song is the appropriate time to wash your hands.
  • If your child is sick keep him or her home from school (and the same for adults going to work.)
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wipe down high touch surfaces in your home frequently.

There are some important tips in regard to cleaning that you might not have considered.

The best defense is a good offense. Too often we only think about wiping down the high touch items in our home once someone is sick. During the normal course of a day however, you and your kids come in contact with people and items that are covered with germs. Not many people consider wiping down the doorknobs coming in from outside, either the front door or garage door entrance. How about the steering wheel, car door handle and keys?

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These are all touchpoints that can allow germs to be brought into your home. You’re probably nervous about cleaning your phone, but this is one of the germiest items. According to research conducted by Chuck Gerba, PhD. a microbiology professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, eighty percent of phones in homes that have a child with the flu have the flu virus on them. Cold and flu viruses survive on them, anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The best way to clean your phone is remove it from the case and spray some rubbing alcohol or disinfectant spray onto a cloth and wipe the phone down. Then use another microfiber cloth to dry the phone thoroughly. Don’t forget the phone case! If it’s waterproof wash it by hand regularly. Lots of folks these days also prefer to carry antimicrobial phone cases like these from Speck products.

How you clean is as important as what you clean. I remember when I was growing up my mom would always use sponges. I don’t think it would have ever crossed her mind to use paper towels. While sponges are great, they can also be a breeding ground for bacteria. Frequently change your sponge and at the end of the day either pop it into the microwave (completely wet) for 1 – 2 minutes or put it in the dishwasher as long as you run it on the heat dry mode. There are also a variety of cleaning products you can use at home that are protected with antimicrobial technology like these options from Quickie. When it comes to cleaning kitchen countertops don’t use a sponge, which can harbor millions of bacteria. Using a paper towel will reduce the chance of spreading germs. When wiping down objects like your remote control or doorknobs if you use a cleaning product and immediately wipe it down with a paper towel, you’ll be removing the disinfectant properties before they can do their job. Instead use a disinfectant wipe on these items.

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Use products that don’t just clean but also disinfect, sanitize and protect.

The important thing is using products that are effective in cleaning but also protect against germs as well as bacteria. Bacteria can live on surfaces anywhere from several hours up to several days. In fact, under ideal conditions, bacteria can grow and multiply every 20 minutes. Surface bacteria can spread onto many items in your home as your family goes about usual activities at home. Procter & Gamble recently introduced a new brand of powerful 24 hour cleaning products, Microban 24. There is a sanitizing spray, a multi-purpose cleaner and a bathroom cleaner, all powered by antimicrobial technology that, when used as directed, can keep surfaces sanitized for up to 24 hours, even after multiple touches. It is a revolutionary new cleaner; unlike leading household disinfectants, Microban 24 provides continuous antibacterial protection for up to 24 hours. The full line of products is now sold at major retailers nationwide as well as online.

At any time of the year your family can get hit with a virus. Don’t wait for someone to get a stomach bug or case of the flu to start cleaning all the high-touch places in your home. Get into the habit of daily sanitizing and you’ll have a much greater chance of keeping everyone healthy.