So the day got off to a bad start when your youngest threw up in her breakfast. In the afternoon, you got a call from school and had to pick up your oldest from school. Tonight, your spouse came home and immediately staggered up to the medicine cabinet with a groan. It’s the flu, and it’s spreading.
Somehow, you’ve managed to dodge the bullet so far. You’re the last soldier standing, responsible for distributing the Tylenol, chicken soup, and hugs. You can’t afford to get sick now, but, with your entire home transformed into a microscopic minefield of bacteria and germs how long can that last?
Well, it all depends on how well you sanitize your home!
Routing out germs is a matter of strategy. You need to know where they hide and how they operate. We’re going to take a look at the top targets to hit when you’re breaking out the sanitizer.
All remotes and controllers
Sick kids are bored kids, and bored kids means TV, movies, and video games. Your daughter plopped herself down in front of the Netflix Kids selection and hasn’t left the couch all day. And while your son might be too sick to go to school, he (what a surprise) probably felt just well enough to spend some time playing Fortnite. Well, whatever helps the kids feel better while their bodies battle fever and nausea is a good thing. What isn’t so pleasant though are the germs they’ve no doubt smeared on every remote and game controller in the house.
As far as germ vectors go, there are few better vehicles than the good old remote control. The influenza virus can live on hard plastic surfaces for more than 24 hours, and the rubberized buttons and creases of the typical remote make even better homes for bacteria and germs. Every member of the family is liable to touch a remote during the day, helping to smear their germs on it and pick up new ones. If you’re not sick yet, always wipe down a remote with a disinfecting wipe before browsing the primetime line up and be sure to wipe it down at the end of the day as well.
Bedding and pillows
When you’re sick, all you want to do is lie down and rest. Whether in their beds or on the couch in the family room, it’s likely your sick kids have been resting all day. Bedrest is often the best way to deal with a nasty cold or stubborn flu, but unfortunately it is also a great way to concentrate and spreads germs.
While it’s true that bacteria can’t last as long on soft surfaces as it can on hard ones, you also have to consider the concentration. If infectious germs can be transferred and spread just by handling a remote control, how much worse can we expect it to be for a pillow your little one has been sweating into all afternoon? Or what about the blanket you know they’ve been using as an emergency tissue for their runny nose? Yup, guaranteed germ bombs!
Get ahead of the issue by limiting exposure to other members of the family. That pillow is theirpillow for the day. Even if they go from bed to couch, make sure they are using the same pillow and blanket. While this might seem like you’re spreading germs from place to place, their very presence was going to do that anyway. At least this way you won’t have one person spreading their unique germs to another by sharing a pillow or blanket.
If you can, try and clean as you go. It may seem like a good idea to hold off on a massive laundry load until the kids are out of the woods but disinfecting their pillows/bedding every day can help beat a virus faster and prevent the spread of germs. So, change out those sheets and pillowcases and run them in a high temperature wash to kill as many microbes as possible
The same goes for any beloved stuffed animals your kids might be cuddling with. Of course, not all plush toys are washable. In these cases, do your best to limit transference and swapping between the kids while they recover. When they’re on the mend, let them know that their teddy bear needs some rest too and place it in a sealed plastic bag for a few days while the germs die off.
Light switches and facets
After scrupulously disposing of used tissues all day, decontaminating every cup or plate touched, and washing load after load of laundry, what else could possibly get you or your loved ones sick? Only the everyday items that fly under the radar like light switches and facets.
You might not think a light switch could possibly be that bad. After all, it’s a simple flick on or off, not something you hold and use repeatedly like a phone or remote control. But a simple flick is all it can take if that finger happens to have a bit of mucous fluid on it. Even brief contact can transfer infectious germs.
Same goes with the sink. You’ve probably been having your kids wash up frequently to avoid spreading their germs which is great. But that means they’re turning on the facet for the sink every single time, touching it before washing and after, concentrating germs and picking them right back up.
The best you can do here is to regularly wipe down your light switches with disinfectant wipes and spray your taps and sinks as often as you can while sickies are using them.
For all the booby traps your home can contain, nothing will ever compare with the concentration of germs your liable to pick up on your own hands, and nothing will have the same transfer potential. All it takes is carelessly rubbing your eyes once after checking your sick child’s head for a fever or taking away their bowl of chicken soup to get yourself sick. While you’re trying to keep the rest of the house as clean as possible, remember it’s your hands that you need to worry about most of all.