Home and Office: Pulling the Plug on Germ Parties
Germs. You don’t like getting sick – who does? But it’s a fact of reality. They’re out there, waiting. Getting sick can really set you back at work, keep you bed-ridden for a few days, and blow a hole in your weekly benchmarks. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Germs hide everywhere. In the office, you’re likely to find them in common areas like the break room, but you’ll also find them at your desk. How? Even if you’re not sick, you’re not insulated from other people who either are, or are contagious (even when they show no outward signs or symptoms of being ill).
Touch the same coffee pot that an infected person touches, then go back and sit at your desk. You might have unwittingly spread the bacteria or virus to your workstation – your keyboard, mouse, coffee cup, papers, stapler, and anything else you use.
At home, about the worst thing you’ll encounter is fecal bacteria. You clean your bathroom, right? That’s good, but did you know that more fecal bacteria live in the kitchen than on your toilet? It’s true. According to Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and coauthor of The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu, there are about 400 times more fecal bacteria on a cutting board than on a typical toilet seat.
If you place raw meat on a cutting board, rinse it, and then use it to make a salad, you just cooked up a recipe for salmonella.
How To Disinfect
This is really simple. All you need are a few cleaning supplies – most notably bleach. You can go all-out and buy fancy wipes, but it’s not absolutely necessary. The type of bleach you can buy from CleanItSupply or your local grocery store can be mixed with water and used to disinfect just about anything.
Prepare a solution of 10 parts water to one part bleach. Now, spray everything from kitchen countertops to bathroom sinks to toilets. Let the solution air-dry. Voila. Your home is disinfected. At the office, it might be a little trickier.
You can’t really bring a bucket of bleach with you to work and, even if you could, having a bucket of it sitting next to you might draw unwanted attention. Maybe you’re cleaning up a crime scene or something. No, what you want are the little disinfecting wipes that are easy to dispose of. They’re soaked in a disinfecting agent.
Wipe down your keyboard, mouse, workstation area, and anything else that you think might be home to germs. Wipe down the break room – even if it’s not your job. Giving that coffee pot handle a quick wipe-down might just save you from having to go to the doctor next week.
When To Disinfect
You should try to disinfect everything at least once a week. For some areas, once a day might be appropriate. For example, if you constantly work with raw meat in the kitchen, it’s probably a good idea to wipe everything down once a day. Ditto for office areas that are constantly exposed to germs – like the break room. If someone is sick, it’s probably best to carry around a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
Don’t Be Too Clean
While it’s important to be hygienic, being too clean can sometimes be a bad thing. Your immune system works best when it’s challenged now and then. That doesn’t mean you should willingly expose yourself to sick people at work more than you have to, but being a germaphobe may actually do more harm than good.
Michael Ferguson is a retired cleaner and home repairman. He now enjoys spending his days in his garden, but when the weather won’t allow that, he likes to share his insights by blogging online.
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