Apr 232012

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.


  14 Responses to “So You Think Your Home Is Clean”

  1. I agree absolutely about germ control for the elderly, it’s very important.
    For those of in good health, however, our obsessive use of items like anti-bacterial soap is causing problems with resistance. Thanks all the all the help you give us for the elderly!

    eco friendly skin care – top products

  2. Suzanne,
    you got me here. I totally agree with everything. There is always a tiny line before we go on the other side and become compulsive. Same like in life – cannot go too far to the left or to the right. Keep the balance.
    Thank you
    Body Language: Truths And Lies

  3. All great advice regarding hygiene, you can never be too carefull. I’m amazed at the number of people I see using restaurant toilets then leaving without washing their hands.
    I always carry a small bottle of antiseptic handwash in public places.

    Kindest regards
    Peter Tamosaitis

  4. These are really great tips, especially the one about washing underwear last. I’ll have to check out that video.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT, CES
    Fat Loss and Fitness 101

  5. It is truly scary how many germs there are around us … my recent medical adventure significantly lowered my immune system and I became aware of things you mention.

    May the Force be with You.

  6. Wash your hands. How simple is that. I also microwave my dish rag regularly to kill bugs on it.

    Yours In Health!

    Dr. Wendy
    Have You Had Your Vitamin D Today

  7. I’m always surprised when I see someone leaving meat out on the counter to defrost in the hot summer sun. It just makes sense to defrost meat overnight in the refrigerator.

    Yours In Health!

    G.E. Moon II
    Discover The 7 Steps To Amazing Health

  8. I’m a clean freak, so I appreciate the tips. :)

    Cherie Miranda
    Fierce Grace

  9. Wow, that was like reading a horror novel! Thanks for the extra tips on cleanliness.

    Thorne Smith Biography

  10. Cleanliness is important for everyone caring for a Loved One.
    Talking Germs,Suzanne you are amazing!.Looking forward to tomorrow!
    When does the caregiver get care?

  11. Hi Nurse Suzanne,

    Thank you for all these simple yet powerful reminders about how we can reduce bad bacteria in our homes which our elderly and frail parents could be more vulnerable to their influences for infection. Putting down the toilet lid and putting our toothbrush into the medicine cabinet are practical helps we can all quickly, rapidly and easily implement for better home health.


    April Braswell, CHt, RH
    Hypnotist 2 Quit Smoking Successfully Huntington Beach

  12. I had no idea that we were surrounded by so many germs!

    Dejar de fumar sin Engordar

  13. you are correct – that is gross!

  14. Thanks again for some insightful, useful information

    Be Well.

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