little girl blowing her nose

Someone’s sick…disinfect it?

Someone’s sick…disinfect it?

I’ve heard a number of opinions whether killing germs by simply cleaning your house really works.  I’ve heard from people who believe in deep cleaning the house to prepare for a new baby to those who believe the exposure to germs strengthens kids’ immune systems. And to be honest, I’ve always been quite skeptical about the effectiveness of sanitizing your home. Not to mention, my dad always said “a little dirt never hurt”. So, with flu-stomach-and-every-other-sickness-on-the-planet-season in full effect I decided to do my own research.

So, what did I learn?

Well, it’s a little more involved than I thought! Viruses vary in strength and ability to live outside the body. So, what I reference regarding disinfecting is in regards to the flu. Other viruses, like norovirus, have a much longer life cycle outside of the body, their own immune system if you will (so do yourself a favor and don’t get norovirus because apparently it’s a bitch to get rid of). But the flu, it’s a weakling. The flu virus can only live up to 48 hours outside of its host.

As I suspected, the argument of whether or not to disinfect your home is also found in the clinical world. Some researchers say that it’s very unlikely to catch the flu on hard surfaces and more likely to transmit it through contact with contaminated people. “I’ve looked at the data, and there just isn’t good evidence that environmental surfaces have a significant role in the transmission of the virus,” says Trish M. Perl, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore. Instead, the flu seems to depend more on direct transmission from an infected person” (http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/killing-flu-germs-what-works).

Others say disinfecting your homes hard surfaces can decrease the number of germs you contract and spread.

So, here’s my very own made up rules I recommend to prevent getting and spreading the flu:

1. Get the flu shot. Every damn one of you get the shot! The CDC says flu season can start as early as Oct and last until May in some cases. Get the thought out of your head that you will get the flu if you get the shot because the virus inside of the shot is DEAD. If you get sick after getting the shot you were already on the road to getting sick! Don’t be a fool. The flu shot is great because every year it’s created to prevent the few strands of flu that researchers believe will be prevalent during that flu season (www.cdc.gov).

2. Wash your hands, often. The flu virus lives mostly on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds can remove whatever germs you picked up from the dirty, nasty, disgusting public surfaces we touch every day. Here’s something to think about, people say we touch our face as much as 2,000-3,000 times per day. Ew, that creeps me out!

3. Clean and disinfect commonly used hard surfaces (doorknobs, counters, tub, cell phones, computers, TV remote) in your home regularly! If you do this regularly then you won’t need to make a big ordeal out of disinfecting the home every time a kid gets sick. And let’s be honest, if that’s how you roll you would be doing that dam near every day in the winter anyway. What’s important about disinfecting is that you FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. To properly sanitize most cleaners require you spray it on and LET IT SIT for a specific amount of time to kill the germs. Landers Cleaning Co.’s sanitizer, TrioMaxx sanitizing solution from GenEon Technologies, requires the solution sit on a surface for 30 seconds before being wiped off in order to kill bacteria. I would also suggest using a paper towel to wipe the surface clean as sponges and rags are more likely to harbor bacteria if not properly washed and dried.

To put it all in perspective we have to keep in mind that kids get sick. It happens people. My 2 year old’s finger has a permanent residence in his nose. I’m serious, it probably needs a mailing address. I can’t expect him not to get sick with his germy fingers up there all the time. And I’m 100% positive that freaking out every time your kids get sick will do nothing but give you gray hair, like we don’t already have enough, and waste precious hours (that could be spent sleeping) scrubbing the sealer off every surface of your home. So relax! Be proactive and make your family some chicken soup the next time someone starts to sniffle.

Thanks so much for reading!

-beck

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