Why are colds, flus, and other respiratory illnesses more common in colder months? People tend to stay indoors, which allows viruses to pass more easily from one person to another. The cold, dry air outside and warm indoor air with poor circulation may weaken the body’s resistance to these viruses.
You may strive to create a germ-free household, but this can prove difficult. That’s why health experts recommend that you set up a disinfecting routine. First, though, you have to understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines these terms as follows:
- Cleaning: A process that involves scrubbing a surface with water and soap, which helps remove most, not all, germs and grime from the surface.
- Sanitizing: A process that uses a diluted bleach solution or sanitizing spray to remove germs from surfaces or objects. Always clean before you sanitize.
- Disinfecting: A process that uses chemicals or a stronger bleach solution to clear the majority of germs from surfaces or objects. Again, always clean before you disinfect.
Before you embark on your cleaning journey, identify the most high-touch surfaces in your home. Doorknobs, light switches, countertops, appliance handles, and faucets require frequent cleaning. It’s best to regularly wipe down countertops and other visibly dirty surfaces.
Wash Linens And Bedding Regularly
Shedding skin cells and sweat is completely natural, whether you are walking around or sleeping. All that grime can build up on soft surfaces in your home, including your pillows, blankets, and bedsheets. Health experts encourage you to change and wash your sheets weekly to prevent bacterial build-up. When you launder your bedding and bed clothes, you can reduce the presence of dust mites or other allergens that can hide in bedding. Get a second or third set of sheets to swap them out more easily.
Check And Change Your HVAC Filters
If you have a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in your home, you have to change filters regularly to keep indoor air clean. Some smart thermostats will even remind you to change your filters, which is very helpful. Thicker air filters tend to last longer and trap more allergens or illness-causing particles. Regarding HVAC filters, most companies recommend the following:
- One-inch thick filters: change every 30-60 days.
- Two-inch thick filters: change every three months.
- Four-inch thick filters: change every six months.
Manage Humidity Levels
Humidity levels in the home can affect your risk of contracting a virus. According to a study from 2021, moderate humidity levels between 40-60% may reduce the risk of viral transmission. That helps make viruses less likely to survive in the air. Most home thermostats can detect or display indoor humidity levels. If the humidity level drops below 30%, you may want to invest in a humidifier, especially when cold and flu season is around the corner. Additionally, wash your hands and disinfect surfaces more frequently if humidity levels drop.
Declutter Every Night
Some people feel tremendous anxiety if they go to bed without cleaning up their mess. When you wake ups to a tidy room, bathroom, kitchen, and living room, some of that morning stress may not be there. You don’t have to deep clean your house every night, but a minimal cleaning session can go a long way in preparing your mind and body for bed. Put away loose items, wipe down countertops, do all the dishes (or put them in the dishwasher), and don’t leave cosmetics all over the bathroom counter. If all of that seems stressful, consider rounding everything up in a basket and placing that in one spot as a start.
Revamp Your Entryway
If you walk into your house and don’t remove your shoes, you are tracking dirt and other germs inside. The entryway, be it grand or small, is a place to shed your outside self before fully entering the home. Maybe you toss your jacket somewhere, fling your shoes, and discard your bag aimlessly. A tidy entryway can minimize clutter and help prevent germs from entering the home. Below, you’ll find a few tips to help keep your entryway clean:
- Take off your shoes once you enter your home.
- Use a basket or other receptacle to collect things that don’t belong in the entryway. Empty it regularly.
- Create a designated spot for outdoor footwear, for example, a shoe rack.
- Organize your cleaning supplies, such as disinfectant spray and wipes, and keep them on a nearby shelf near the entryway.
- Install a light to ensure proper lighting in your entryway. This can make it easier to spot dirt or grime when cleaning.