Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keeping Germs At Bay

With flu season in full swing, I have found myself feeling a bit like the ‘germ police’. It seems like every other sentence out of my mouth the past couple of weeks has had something to do with washing hands or sanitizing. At moments I even catch myself about to frisk the kids to check for germs. Just kidding. I’m not quite that bad.

But, seriously, in spite of my best efforts of keeping sickness at bay, I am staying home from church today with my son, who has been ill all weekend with the flu. So, I figured I might as well make good use of my time and put up a blog post while I'm watching football.

While I don’t have any control over what my son's exposed to or how well he remembers to wash his hands when he goes to his Adult Transition Program during the day, I can still work to keep my home as germ free as possible.

In addition to the frequent hand washing and other recommended ways to prevent the spread of illnesses, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:


My dishwasher is my friend!! Did you know that you can use the dishwasher to sanitize many household things, besides dishes? When I am in sanitizing mode, I go through the house and start gathering toys and other random items for the dishwasher. Here is a list of just a few of the items I’ve used the dishwasher for:

  • kids plastic toys, including bath toys
  • pet toys
  • toothbrush holders and soap dishes
  • toothbrushes
  • scrub brushes, kitchen sponges, vegetable brushes, baby bottle brushes
  • cup holders from car
  • makeup brushes
  • brushes & combs

It’s a good idea to use the top shelf for toys, brushes, or anything else that you aren’t sure of it’s durability. If you have toys with small parts you can get a dishwasher basket that will fit in the top rack.

I’ve even heard some people use the dishwasher to sanitize their trash cans and lids, though, personally I’ve never tried that.


If you don’t have a dishwasher, or you prefer bleach as a method of sanitizing, you can use the following method.

  • wash in warm, soapy water
  • rinse in clean water
  • fill sink with one part bleach to 10 parts water and submerge items for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • rinse thoroughly
  • air dry


For an inexpensive and effective way to kill bacteria and viruses around the house mix 1 ounce of bleach with 20 ounces of water. This can be safely used around the house on all non-porous surfaces like counters, door handles, sinks, baby changing stations, plastic toys of any type, etc. etc.

I’ve read that you don’t have to worry about toxic residue because bleach breaks down very easily into its component parts within 24 hours. Just spritz the diluted bleach mixture on all the surfaces at night before bedtime and you will have a lot less on your mind the next day about keeping your family healthy.

If ‘Lysol’ is you cleaning agent of choice, be aware that it kills bacteria, NOT viruses. That means flu and cold viruses will still be present after using Lysol.

Diluted bleach, on the other hand, does kill the flu and cold viruses as well as bacteria.


Occasionally I run plush toys through the gentle cycle in the washing machine and dryer to make sure they are clean.

If you have any additional tips that you use in your home, please feel free to share by leaving a comment.

Well I guess since I’m stuck at home I will just have to curl up and enjoy a football game or two. That is, after I gather a few random things and run them through the dishwasher. ;)

Happy Sunday!!

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