The first week in December is National Hand Washing Awareness Week. Hand washing has taken center stage over the past few months to help protect yourself and others from getting sick. Most of us have heard the recommended amount of time to wash hands is 20 seconds- the equivalent of humming or singing Happy Birthday twice. We’ve also been told when to wash hands- after using the bathroom, touching your face, etc. More on that here. As we continue to make sure we are doing right by keeping our hands clean, let’s take a look at ways to keep your hands clean at home.
Where are the germs
Bacteria can double every 20 minutes and some bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can live up to two hours on surfaces (think of handles, doorknobs, keyboards, screens, etc.)
Speaking of handles, according to a NSF International study, faucet handles are one of the top 10 germiest spots in a typical US home. Some not so fun facts about bathroom faucets handles… on average 27% had mold, 9% coliform bacteria and 5% staph!
Taking a closer look at your home, 5 of the top 10 dirtiest place in your home may not be where you think… Your kitchen! Cutting boards, stove knobs and kitchen counters are all in the top 10. Surprising to some, dish sponges and rags top the list as the germiest. In the NSF International study, 77% of dishrags and sponges had coliform bacteria. Another 86% of these bad boys contained yeast and mold. For the scariest statistic, 18% contained staph bacteria. The second dirtiest place in most US homes is the kitchen sink. In the same study, 45% of all sinks had coliform bacteria and 27% contained mold.
Keeping your home clean
Are you afraid of your kitchen now and running to wash your hands after walking in? Here are some tips to help keep your hands and home less germy.
- Regularly clean all surfaces with soap and water
- Wipe faucet handles daily with disinfectant spray or wipes
- Microwave wet sponges for 1-2 minutes once each day
- Wash dish rags every day or two
- Clean the kitchen sink twice a week and once a month use a mixture of 1 tsp bleach with 4 quarts water down the drain. (Don’t forget the strainer!)
- Wipe counters with disinfectant spray or wipe or use a diluted bleach / water solution
- And of course…wash your hands often!