Family,  Stories

Germ-free Home, Worry-free Life

Home hygiene is very important to prevent the spread of infection and disease in order to ensure the safety, health and well-being of young children. We have some pointers for parents who need to ensure that a home is clean, pleasing and ordered not just to the eye but also at the microscopic level. Didn’t someone say love is in the details?

A group of leading global experts specializing in public health (Hygiene Council, April 2008, supported by Reckitt Beckiser) has come up with hygiene standards to follow to prevent the spread of germs in the home.

• Hands-on hygiene

Because they’re the body part that we most often use for everyday tasks, hands can be one of the primary transmitters of bacteria and disease. It is one of the top sources of cross-contamination and infection in the home. Make it a habit to wash hands with soap and water before eating or feeding children; using the toilet or changing a child’s diaper; coughing, sneezing or blowing the nose. After hand-washing, hands should be dried on a clean, dry towel.

• If it’s flat, clean it!

Bacteria can survive for long periods of time on surfaces in the home and can be transferred to hands and to other surfaces, especially in food contact areas. Surface cleaning should be done as often as possible, most especially if a surface is contaminated by vomit, feces (diarrhea), blood or any bodily fluid from someone who is sick in the household.

Specifically, we may use detergent-based cleaner or disinfectant to clean the following items regularly:
– water storage container
– kitchen water tap
– chopping boards and utensils
– toilet seats and flush handle
– door and fridge handle
– light switches
– rubbish bin lid
– telephone hand piece
– children’s toys
– baby’s high chair

Yes, even your baby’s high chair may be a breeding ground for molds because of food left stuck inside its nooks and crannies. To ensure proper sanitation, use toothpicks or earbuds with a bit of disinfecting cleaner to take out the old gunk. Of course, don’t forget to rinse thoroughly.

It also helps that dishes are washed immediately after every meal. Unwashed plates and utensils are magnets for cockroaches, ants, and rats.

• The secret to a happy tummy

Food poisoning happens when food is not cooked properly and stored incorrectly, increasing the risk of contamination and the spread of disease. Prepare and store raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods. Cut meat and vegetables with separate knives and cutting boards. Wash hands after each food preparation, especially after touching raw meat and poultry. Soak, scrape, brush or wash all fruits and vegetables. Cooked food should be stored in a refrigerator. Don’t leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours. Reheat and re-serve left-overs only once.

• Clean, never out of fashion

Studies have shown that the transfer of germs can occur between contaminated and uncontaminated clothing during washing. As a rule, the lower the washing temperature, water volume, and detergent level, the greater the risk of infection. Wash clothes, linen, towels and other fabrics at high temperature (above 60*C) . Laundry disinfectants should be added for the laundry of small children and other contaminated items. For better results, laundry should be washed in clean water and sun-dried under direct sunlight and then ironed. Wash hands after touching any laundry.

• The 1-week rule
It’s easy to forget that blankets, bed sheets, and pillow cases need changing at least once a week because “they still look clean.” Make it a habit to change beddings weekly to keep them fresh and conducive for sleep. .

• The family bonding activity you need
Regular general cleaning is the family bonding activity you’ve probably haven’t thought of. This practice doesn’t just keep the home spick and span, it ensures that old items and items that gather dirt and take up space are disposed of.

• Dirt: No Entry
Consider leaving your shoes at the door or having a separate pair of foot wear at home to avoid bringing in dirt/germs from outside. This is especially needed if you have crawling babies or children who love to play on the floor. Also put doormats at the door to trap dirt.

Always remember, prevention is better cure. A clean home is a happy one!


Dr. Petty Dio

Petty D. Dio, MD is a wife, mother, and a practicing pediatrician. She is also active in integrating best health care practices to safeguard the health and happiness of the children in the community. She also does regular mission work locally and in South Korea.

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