It’s no secret that during winter we are more susceptible to the cold, flu and other bugs. Germs can lie in waiting everywhere from your morning commute to your work utensils. While you may not be able to control your exposure to germs on the train, bus or at work one place you can minimise your exposure to them is in the home! In this blog, we share our top tips for keeping your home free from nasty germs.
Why are we more vulnerable to germs during winter?
There are a number of reasons that we are more susceptible to catching bugs during winter. One example is that we are less exposed to daylight and therefore run the risk of getting low on vitamin D which can hamper the immune system. Another reason is that we often spend more time indoors during winter which can increase our likelihood of catching the germs that are going around.
However, there are a few ways you can practice good hygiene and prevent the spread of germs throughout the home. Good hygiene practices will also help to reduce the likelihood of catching a cold. Making sure your home isn’t a resting place for germs can help you to stop a cold before it starts!
Ventilate your home regularly
With the central heating blazing and the windows shut during winter the air in your home can quickly become stale. What’s more, having the windows shut for long periods of time traps the germs inside your home polluting the air and increasing the chance of recontamination.
Opening your windows during winter may seem counterintuitive at first, but regularly allowing fresh air into the home can help prevent the buildup of indoor contaminants. Ventilating regularly helps to cleanse the air meaning that throughout the home we will be breathing in high quality, fresh air. This is particularly important if you suffer from asthma or allergens during winter.
Another important reason for having good home ventilation is that it helps to prevent the buildup of harmful condensation. If your house has poor ventilation, natural moisture from your body and bathroom can cause damage to your home. Unventilated moisture can create damp conditions which then sets up the perfect environment for mould and germs to grow.
Be on the lookout for the telltale signs of mould and any areas of discolouration that can be an indicator of mould (and potentially even rot!). Common culprit mould-growth spots include warm, damp areas like the bathroom or kitchen.
How often should I open my windows during winter?
Opening your windows regularly will help prevent harmful condensation and polluted air in the home. However, during the colder winter months when the temperature has dropped, opening the windows is less than inviting.
Ideally opening the windows once a day for 20 minutes will help to circulate and ward off stale, polluted air. However, if it is bitterly cold outside, opening the windows once every few days will help to keep germs and condensation at bay.
Disinfect your cleaning cloths and sponges
While many believe that their trusty sponges are helping to clean dirty dishes, in most cases they are actually the dirtiest place in the whole household! According to a 2011 Household Germ study, more than 75% of cleaning sponges and rags had traces of bacteria.
Sponges can be disinfected by blasting them in the microwave for two minutes to kill off any germs. This should be done at least once a day to stave off germs. Cleaning cloths and kitchen towels should be tossed in the washing mashing every two days to prevent germs from lingering.
Put the toilet seat down before flushing
Putting the toilet seat down has been the subject of many household arguments but there’s more reason than personal preference to be closing the lid! When you flush the toilet the mechanisms swirl water and combine with the waste to break it down and remove it from the toilet basin. However, during this process toilet plume can occur.
Toilet plume is where microscopic particles of toilet water and faeces are distributed into the air as a result of flushing the toilet. While this process has been improved with high-standard low-flush toilets, many older toilets don’t have this advanced mechanism. As a result, toilet plume can occur and the particles can reach as high as 15 feet!
If you flush the toilet without closing the lid, dispersed toilet particles can rest on multiple bathroom surfaces such as the floor, sink, shower or bath - and even make their way onto the head of your toothbrush!
Flushing the toilet without closing the lid helps germs to distribute throughout your bathroom. To avoid this, start flushing with the lid closed and clean your bathroom thoroughly on a weekly basis.
Have a thorough cleaning routine
According to the NHS, some types of viruses can survive on indoor surfaces for more than a week! Germs can inhabit all sorts of areas including handles, switches, kitchen countertops, bath towels and even your mobile phone! Find out where the dirtiest places in your home reside here.
Cleaning is rarely our favourite activity but, it’s key to preventing the spread of germs and other contaminants like mould. Establishing a thorough cleaning routine that you can easily stick to will help to keep germs at bay.
Cleaning doesn’t need to take up much of your time - in fact, a little and often approach can be easier to keep up in the long run. Try to prioritise your cleaning tasks and make sure to use high quality cleaning products that are able to expertly clean and sanitise surfaces. Find out how you can make cleaning quick and easy here.