Germs are gross. We can basically all agree on that. They make stuff smell and — even worse, can make us sick. But don't freak out; there are ways to germ-proof your home and life in general that can be super helpful in reducing your overall chances of catching something nasty. You just have to be aware of the places germs like to hide.
There are some truths to beating germs that we all probably already know. For example, in a piece for Good Housekeeping, Amy Crawford-Faucher, MD, family physician and clinical assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, noted that, "Hand washing is probably not only the simplest, but also the most effective way to minimize spreading germs." She also noted to try not to touch your mouth and nose a ton throughout the day, since it's one of the fastest ways to breathe in or ingest harmful viruses or bacteria.
But these are old staples of staying healthy. The fact of the matter is there are a ton of other super easy things you can do to fight germs that won't drastically affect your life (i.e: those weird germ masks some people wear on the subway), but will reduce your chances of getting sick. And who doesn't want that?
For those of you out there who just can't sacrifice another sick day this year, or just don't want to get sick before a big day or event, here are 11 ways to keep your life super germ-free.
1. Clean Your Phone
According to a piece featured in ABC news, studies show that our cell phones are one of the filthiest things in our lives, harboring over tens of thousands of germs, which can include staph and meningitis (not to mention, just the regular old annoying cold). Getting in the habit of running a disinfectant wipe over it before bed could save you some serious sick days.
2. ...And Your Keyboard
According to another ABC news piece, your computer keyboard and mouse (that's right, the thing you're probably touching right now) is technically dirtier than a toilet seat. A quick wipe down before leaving or starting for the day is a super smart move.
3. Watch Out For Your Purse
According to Donna Duberg, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at Saint Louis University in a piece for Women's Health, our purses and handbags are one of the most overlooked sources of gross bacteria — usually because we rest them on floors and other public services without thinking. And while you might not have the time or energy to disinfect your purse all the time, be mindful of where you place it; for example, don't throw it on the kitchen counter where you prepare food.
4. Wash Your Makeup Brushes
A compilation piece for Oprah.com on ways to keep our makeup clean reminded us that our hands and fingers are all over our makeup, and so it's a super common source of bacteria on our faces (which can lead to acne). Because of this, wash your makeup brushes as regularly as you can, and be conscious of washing your hands and face before applying makeup.
5. Don't Wash Your Mascara Brush
The same Oprah.com piece noted that it may be tempting to rinse off your mascara brush with water to remove any dried product, but the thing is getting that little brush wet and then returning it still damp into the dark, moist mascara bottle is a recipe for bacteria growth. Instead, try to get off as much as you can with a tissue and replace the whole bottle about every three months.
6. Watch Those Dish Towels
A Health.com compilation piece on keeping our kitchens as germ-free as possible noted that we often use our dish towels to wipe up gross spills on the counter, and then might use the very same towel to dry our hands later in the day. Always be conscious of cross-contamination, and try to keep certain towels reserved for hands-only.
7. Fear The Sponge
OK, so maybe don't fear the sponge — but be really, really careful with it, since it sits around all day in one of the dirtiest parts of our kitchen —the sink — and then is used to clean other surfaces. The same Health.com piece recommended soaking your sponges once a week in a bowl of water with a tablespoon of bleach, or even just zapping them in the microwave.
8. Wash Your Toilet Handle Regularly
The everyday help website Tesh.com pointed out that the handle on our toilet is the only place we touch in our homes before we've washed our hands — meaning it's probably not the cleanest place ever, and we definitely shouldn't overlook it when we clean our bathrooms.
9. Close The Lid Before You Flush
The same Tesh.com piece also noted that the typical toilet bowl has more than 3 million germs per square inch, and these germs get sprayed all over our bathroom every time we flush. The good news is, the fix is crazy easy: just close the lid.
10. Be Careful In Your Office Kitchen
A piece in Time Magazine found that the dirtiest area in the majority of offices is the kitchenette area — especially the microwave and refrigerator door handles. So just be careful to definitely wash your hands before eating if you've prepared your meal in a communal office kitchen area.
11. Put Your Leftovers Away Fast
Health.com also said that people generally keep leftovers out for a lot longer than they safely should — sometimes waiting hours before finally putting them away in the fridge. The problem is this leaves them at the perfect temperature for bacteria to flourish, so they instead stressed the importance of putting them away as soon as you can.
Germs are everywhere. It's a fact of life. And so while we shouldn't let them freak us out, we can be savvy about where they often hide and multiply to ensure we stay as healthy as possible. So grab the disinfectant wipes and go forth and conquer!
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