So far this winter season we’ve endured storms Angus, Barbara, Conor and, most lately, Doris that wreaked havoc across the UK last week. But it’s not just property these freak weather events cause damage to.
The winter months put our health under added stress too. Wet and windy conditions, cold temperatures and central heating all act as incubators for nasty household germs.
Keeping our homes clean is a good first step towards protecting our health. Everything from the dreaded ‘man flu’ to the common cold, and the more serious pneumonia and other respiratory disorders breathing can be triggered by dirty or dusty rooms.
Although there are no real short cuts to effective cleaning – sometimes you just have to put in the effort – there are some habits you can adopt to reduce the impact on your daily life, while actually improving your overall cleanliness.
Here are some ways to keep your home germ-free, without spending your evenings and weekends elbow-deep in hot water and bleach.
First of all, make cleaning part of your everyday lifestyle, rather than a weekly chore. It might sound counter-intuitive, but once you get into the habit of cleaning up after yourself as you go along, you’ll feel like you spend less time doing it.
You probably already wipe up significant spills as soon as they happen, but make sure you sweep away food crumbs and wash worktops regularly, and there should be less scrubbing required.
Water is your friend when trying to dissolve dried-up deposits or remove sticky substances, but it’s also a friend to bacteria, which multiply faster in damp conditions.
Once you have finished cleaning a surface, especially if it’s a non-porous one, give it a good drying down with a clean, dry cloth – you’ll wipe away the last of the more resistant bacteria and prevent new growth for longer.
Likewise, heat kills bacteria, so make sure any concentrated cleaning solutions you use are mixed with the hottest water possible.
That means using water that is hot, but not uncomfortable to touch, if you need to get elbow-deep into the scrubbing. If you don’t need to make direct contact with the water or the surface, use hotter or even boiling water for a more effective clean.
Keep in mind how bacteria and other germs spread – especially in the presence of cooked and uncooked foods.
Keep food wrapped or covered until you need it, and keep cooked and raw ingredients well away from each other, as just a few bacteria splashed or tossed from one to the other can be enough to cause a serious infection.
Finally, invest in the right cleaning materials. Disinfectants and thick household bleach can be allies in killing off any bacterial colonies on surfaces – just be sure they won’t damage the surface itself.
Disposable sponges, brushes and cloths allow you to literally throw away the germs picked up, while cloths you keep for longer should be laundered regularly, ideally on a hot wash with bleach. A clean microfibre cloth also works wonders when picking up dust and for drying damp surfaces.
Try these few tips and you will be left with a cleaner, germ-free home, keeping you and your family in good health all year round.