You might not want to eat while you read this blog entry. You will definitely want to wash your hands after you read it. Because as smart as we think we are about cleaning our homes we really do not have our facts right.
In 1975 Professor Charles Gerba, of the University of Arizona published a scientific article describing the little known phenomenon of bacterial and viral aerosols due to toilet flushing. This taught us to lower the toilet lid before flushing and either cover our toothbrushes or put them in the medicine cabinet or a drawer.
The worst place for infection is in the kitchen, most notably the sponge or cloth used to wash the dishes. The countertops and faucets are contaminated with fecal bacteria, usually from raw meat, (wash your meat before cooking). Is it any wonder that most food-borne illness come from your own home? The warm, moist atmosphere of the kitchen and bathrooms are great breeding grounds.
Do you eat at your desk? It has 400 times more germs than your toilet. Dr. Gerba calls desks bacteria cafeterias. He calls keyboards a lunch counter for germs. Turn yours over and see what falls out. For some people, there’s a small meal there.
What many people do not know is that the faucet handles are actually more contaminated than the toilet seat. Dr. Gerba recommends you wipe down sinks and drains each day with a cleanser containing chlorine bleach. This will knock out 99.9 percent of fecal organisms. Countertops, appliances, and faucet handles should get the treatment two or three times a week, and toilets, tubs, and showers once a week. Personally, I like to clean my faucets daily.
Use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables, to prevent transfer of germs from one to the other. After use throw cutting boards and kitchen sponges in the dishwasher and dishcloths in the washing machine, or soak them for five minutes in a sink full of water containing a cup of bleach.
Dr. Gerba states, “There is about a 10th of a gram of feces in the average pair of underwear. You don’t want to be doing your handkerchiefs with your underwear.”
When doing laundry, make underwear the last load. Do not sort by colors (or at least do not put colored underwear with other colored items). Use chlorine bleach, which will clean both the clothes and your washing machine. And wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
Use bleach tablets in your toilet bowl. Close the lid before flushing.
And lastly watch this fifteen minute video of a talk Dr. Gerba gave at TEDx Pheonix: Dr. Gerba
It takes a real talent to make talking about germs and fecal material entertaining. I had to pass it on to every nurse I know.