Why am I sick again? It must be the kids. Their little classmates. The dirty, dirty hands that you can’t get them to wash. It’s easy to blame the kids, but maybe, mom, it’s time to look closer at our homes. Now that you have littles running around, there are more people creating more messes. (As if you could forget). But more mess often means more bacteria, in places we didn’t even consider it hiding.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Why should I bother sanitizing my sponges when I have a toddler that lets the dog lick inside his mouth? The same answer as always: because we need all the help we can get. So next time, before you ask yourself “WHY, oh, WHY am I sick again?” turn the microscope on these 5 objects – because they might be crawling.
The Problem: When you use an item every single day, (supposedly) for a whole 8 hours, it’s normal to expect some natural wear and tear. But when it comes to your pillow, it’s not rips or stains you should worry about. According to one study by STUDY, the average pillow actually contains over one million fungal spores that can trigger sinusitis, asthma, and various respiratory issues even in otherwise healthy individuals. Not to mentions the millions of dust mites whose droppings can trigger hay fever, asthma, eczema and rhinitis!
- Change your pillows every two years – five-year-old pillows contain double the mold of their two-year-old younger counterparts!
- Don’t go to bed with wet hair – moisture breeds bacteria, fungi, and mold.
- If you can help it, avoid letting your pets in bed.
- Buy washable pillows – The American Lung Association advises us to wash bedding in hot water a minimum of once per week, but materials like down can deter us from doing so!
The Problem: As a mom, you’re probably feels like you’re using your sponges even more than your pillows. Life can be like that. And while you’ve probably heard the advice about microwaving your sponges, it’s really time you started putting it into practice. Why? Because the average sponge can harbor more bacteria than a TOILET SEAT due to it’s moist environment and continuous exposure to new kinds of grime. Considering the purpose of a sponge, it’s especially “icky” to spread all that bacteria around, cross-contaminating all of the dishes we eat off of.
- Sanitize your sponge by placing it in the microwave wet for 60 seconds
- Even if you sanitize, replace your sponge every 2 weeks – certain bacteria can become MORE prevalent after several cleanings! (The more you know.)
The Problem: Like sponges, vacuums are the gift that keeps on giving, spreading dust, bacteria, and grime around like a crop dusting plane. The wrong vacuums, that is. Because unless you have a “high efficiency particulate air” (HEPA) vacuum, the machine is just spewing dust back into the air and spreading it around.
- Be sure that you’re using a vacuum with a HEPA, not “HEPA-like” filter. If you have a cleaning service, this is twice as important, so your home isn’t being contaminated from other houses’ allergens!
The Problem: What’s lurking in the human mouth ain’t pretty, and there’s really no need to make it worse. So we’ll cut right to the chase: the average toothbrush can contain 1.2 million bacteria including germs like the flu virus, staphylococcus bacteria, E. coli and streptococcus virus. So if you have a cold, the flu, or strep throat, be advised that toothbrushes are a likely culprit.
- Just replace it! As a rule of thumb, change your brush every 3 months, but if you were sick, toss it as soon as you’re well.
- Never keep your toothbrush near the toilet. We don’t think we have to tell you why.
- Do not store your toothbrush in an airtight container – this harbors more moisture and germs will only breed faster.
- Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use.
- Store your toothbrush upright so it can dry completely before your next use. If that doesn’t work, consider alternating between toothbrushes so you always have a dry brush.
The Problem: If you regular clean the inside of your fridge kudos. But wait, there’s more! Did you know that frost-free fridges (the most common kind) melt frost into a drip tray every few hours? Well that tray is probably blowing dust into your home. It also catches spills from your fridge, so it could very well be full of mold.
- Don’t neglect the outside of your fridge. Regularly clean the coils, behind the fridge, and if you have one, the tray underneath it.
There are all sorts of dark and scary places hiding in our house, and there’s just not enough time in the day to disinfect all of them. And that’s ok! Progress is progress, so head over to Pinterest, scout out some grown-up “chore charts”, and tackle the big stuff on whatever schedule you can manage.
Cheers to a healthier home, moms!