We’re on a mission to kill the germs. We scrub our dishes in the hottest water. We bleach out the toilet bowl. Carry around the hand sanitizer. Are we forgetting anything?
How about the items closest to you? The things you carry around every day and are so basic to your existence you don’t even see them: your purse, the gym bag, your child’s backpack, their lunchbox. Studies show the surfaces of these containers are quite literally crawling with unmentionables. What’s a clean freak to do amidst flu season? Here are some tips:
Steer clear of the floor
Avoid picking up the germs in the first place by avoiding putting your purse, bag or lunchbox on the floor, especially when in a public bathroom. One in four ladies’ purses has fecal matter on them simply from having been placed on the bathroom floor. Train yourself and the kids to use the hook on the back of the stall door. If the hook is mysteriously missing (who is stealing the hooks from stall doors?!), wipe it down with a paper towel.
Bag check weekly
Pick a day of the week to clean all the bags. Washout lunchboxes and let dry completely. For purses and bags that can’t be submerged, use disinfecting wipes to scrub down the handles and bottom surfaces.
Lunch at school is one place where it is entirely ok not to share. In fact, it’s the healthy thing to do. Teaching your kids not to share sips of drinks or bites of sandwiches will help stop the spread of germs. Cut the sandwich and snacks into pieces if trading or sharing is something they can’t resist.
If you don’t already, get yourself and especially the kids into the habit of never eating without washing hands first. Pack sanitizer in their lunchbox. "People who wash hands seven times a day have about 40 percent fewer colds than the average person," says Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu.