Can A Home Be Too Clean?

No amount of cleaning can really get rid of all the dirt and germs that stays at your home. No matter how many times you clean, there will always be new germs that will be coming from outside your home or from your pets who loves to go outside. The idea of a clean and disinfected house is far from being true.

Is my house “Too clean”?

In all honesty, no amount of cleaning can really get rid of all the germs and dirt that is dormant at your home. They move as fast as you clean. New germs and dirt appear because air goes in and out of your home and people and pets brings it along with them when they go out. Contaminated foods and stacked items are good areas to pool germs. The idea of having a house that is “too clean” is wrong and even impossible.

Health Benefits of a clean home

a clean home is a happy home with a home background

Wanting a clean home is not a bad dream. It is not only good for you but also for your family as well. A study at Indiana University found out that people who has cleaner homes has increase physical activity making them physically fit.

Also, a clean home lowers the stress and fatigue that a person is feeling. A messy home may be a subconscious reminder of a work that needs to be finished while a clean home makes you feel even more organized.

Less dirt and germs reduce the risk of having allergic reactions and asthmatic attack. Dirt that has been stagnant for a long time and inhaled by a person can trigger allergic reactions. 

Importance of Good hygiene

Good hygiene is critical in stopping the spread of diseases-causing germs, bacteria and viruses such as the novel coronavirus, common colds and flu, and even tummy bugs like salmonella and E.coli.

Good personal hygiene not only keeps all parts of the body clean, but it is also plays a role in maintaining our health including our physical and mental health. Poverty and lack of access to clean water are only a few of other factors that can affect a person’s personal hygiene.

5 Simple steps of effective handwashing

step by step infographic of washing hands

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular washing of hands at certain times to avoid spread of infectious diseases:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating meals
  • Before and after looking after anyone who is vomiting or has diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a wound or cut
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After changing diapers or cleaning your child
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching any form of garbage or dirty surfaces/objects
  • After handling pets or pet-related items such as food and feeding bowl

The CDC outline 5 simple steps that everyone should follow to have an effective handwashing:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water then turn the tap off and apply soap.
  2. Lather the hands by rubbing them together with the soap, remember to reach the backs of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails.
  3. Scrub the hands continuously for at least 20 seconds (sing your “happy birthday” song twice).
  4. Rinse the hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Does exposure to germs strengthen our immune system?

The immune system

Childhood exposure to germs was though to help strengthen the immune system and protect children from developing allergies and asthma. Until now, there were various researches that tried to identify the mechanism behind this. Some studies show that early life exposure to microbes can help fight infection in the body but might also trigger a range of disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.

According to hygiene hypothesis, people who grew up in a clean environment with proper sanitation lack normal exposure to microbes, pollen and other germs in the environment. It was said that this have a negative effect in the development of their immune system, which makes them have a higher risk of acquiring diseases unlike those who have been exposed to dirt at an early age.

With the advent of numerous antibacterial and antimicrobial soap readily available in the market, many people developed a fear of germs which has been pushed too far and might be causing us more harm than cure.

Common Types of Bacteria at Home

How sure are you that after cleaning there are no bacteria or viruses lingering somewhere in your home? Our home is our comfort zone and where we spend most of our day in. Keeping it clean, disinfected and tidy must be hard but if you want to prevent you and your loved one from getting sick, you might need to start with it real quick. We listed down the most common bacteria and we also included the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 for you to know them better.

Types of Bacteria

1. Proteobacterium

If a man is a dog’s best friend, it is Proteobacterium that is a dog’s best friend.  Every time your dog comes into your house, expect them to bring this bacterium with them. Proteobacterium comes from the group that causes whooping cough.

2. Streptococcus mutans

Every morning after you wake up and every night before you sleep you often brush your teeth. Aside from preventing cavities from eating your teeth, brushing also helps remove this bacterium away. It can also be transported to the bathroom especially when we drool in our pillowcase at night.

3. Lactobacillus

This one is what most of us are familiar with. It is included in some processed foods such as cheese, sour cream and any kind of thickened milk. This is the bacteria that causes the milk to become thick. Some Lactobacillus are also mixed with milk and are good for the digestive system. Its acidification helps kill off or inhibit the growth of other bacteria.

4. Non-tuberculous Mycobacteria

I bet you are familiar about Mycobacteria, which is often associated with tuberculosis. We also have non-tuberculous mycobacteria which often resides in the shower or on the shower curtains as well.

5. Pseudomonas

The kitchen is almost the most important part of the house (and should be the cleanest!). But this place also hides a dark secret and that is because it is a home for the Pseudomonas, especially the sink! Most strains of this bacteria do not cause a problem but one, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  It is a powerful bacterium that causes a serious infection when a person is infected. It is one of the most hated bacteria as there are only selected antibiotics that can work against it.

6. E-Coli

This one is also a resident in our home. It can be found almost everywhere and on any surface. Sometimes, it can also be found on fruits and vegetables and that is why washing them prior to consumption should be given greatest importance. It comes from the family of Enterobacteriaceae which is known for causing food poisoning and diarrhea.

7. Micrococcus Bacteria

Most of this type of bacteria is harmless but can be deadly for people who have poor immune system. This bacterium can be found on dust, dairy products, beer and even the skin.

8. Bacteroidaceae

It is not a surprise to find a fecal bacteria inside the bathroom. Honestly, they traveled long before they found themselves to be on the outside world. Usage of chemical cleaners helps wiping them out, but a few often survive. Since the environment inside the bathroom is moist and oxygen-poor, they are more likely to multiply as this is their natural habitat.

The Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19

With the ongoing pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. It is important to get to know this virus for us to better understand how this virus works and prevent ourselves and our family from being infected with this deadly virus. This virus was first reported in the city of Wuhan, China late last year which caused a massive epidemic in China and quickly spread across 70 other countries in the world causing the current pandemic.

The coronavirus disease or COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily present as a case of mild to moderate respiratory illness and most of the patients recover without requiring treatments. For the high-risk people such as the elderly and those who have known co-morbidity such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer,  and patients with immunosuppressive disorders, they are more likely to develop the severe type of this disease.

The virus spread quickly through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when a person infected with the virus sneezes or coughs. It may also stay for long hours in the air causing it to easily infect people. Here are some symptoms that you might take note of to see if you may or may not have the virus:

Most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigability

Less common symptoms:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Rash on skin and discoloration of fingers or toes.

If you are currently experience these symptoms, immediately go to your doctor to seek consult. There is no vaccine yet available for the coronavirus, but some medications were proven to be effective in lessening the symptoms an infected person is experiencing. To prevent spread of the virus, let us continue social distancing, proper and frequent hand washing, practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette and lastly, do not go out if you don’t have anything important to do. STAY AT HOME.

Clean and Disinfect yourself and your Home

With the government slowly loosening the Covid-19 restrictions across the country, British people are able to move around freely. The coronavirus is still a threat, majority of the industries needs to open and continue to serve the people. It is more important now to still continue with social distancing, wearing of mask and maintain proper cleaning habits on yourself and even at home. To keep you, your family and your home virus-free take note of the following:

  • Always wash your hand before and after holding anything. Usage of hand sanitizer is no substitute to washing hands.
  • Clean and disinfect your home at least once daily just to be safe. Always assume that you have had contact with a person infected outside your home.
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces like the doorknobs, tables, kitchen counter, faucets, light switches and remote controls. These items are held or touched more than once a day and can easily cause spread of the virus if not properly disinfected.

Sources Of Bacteria At Home

Ever wonder where bacteria can be residing at your home? There are many possible places, but we will only enumerate the most common places they can be found. Knowing where to find them is helpful in keeping a clean and healthy home for you and your family.

Sources of Bacteria

The Kitchen Sink

According to a study and survey by the Hygiene Council, it was found that there is a about 17, 964 bacteria per square inch that can be found on your kitchen sink. This is in agreement with the findings of infection control, where they found that the toilet bowl may be cleaner than your sink. Food particles that was left behind after eating from plates that were soaked and rinsed from the dishes may make its way to the dishwasher where it can serve as the breeding ground for E. coli and salmonella. These two are known for causing food-poisoning and diarrhea. When getting the table ready, this bacterium has already multiplied on the plates and can get on your hands or spread to the food.

Quick-clean: For deep cleaning of the sink, wash it using a mix of bleach and water once a day and letting it run down the drain. Make sure to remove the drain plug and include it in the cleaning.

The Toothbrush

A toothbrush is a must and part of our daily hygiene care. When brushing your teeth, some bacteria comes stay on the toothbrush afterwards. But this is not the worrisome part. According to a study, the flushing of the toilet can send sprays of bacteria and virus-contaminated water into droplets. These germs can float in the air and can find its way to your toothbrush.

Quick-clean: Place your toothbrush somewhere it can air dry between usage. Make sure that it is not near the toilet. Also, it is recommended to replace your toothbrush often especially after you’ve been sick.

The TV Remote Control

Woman eati

The living room is the most comfortable place to stay and relax aside from your own bedroom. The TV remote control is one of the most common touched items in the living area aside from the books and magazines. Researchers found that it is the dirtiest item in the living are and has viruses and germs living on it.

Quick-clean: Use an alcohol wipe or bleach to clean the surface of the remote control. Also, remember to do regular and proper handwashing to prevent acquiring such viruses and germs and getting sick.

The Bathtub

Who doesn’t love to soak on the bathtub for long hours after a day of hard work? It is the best place to clean oneself, but it may not be so clean at all. Studies showed that the bathtub has multiple bacteria living on it such as fungi and staphylococcus bacteria. When you turn on the jets, the germs on the tub can mix into the water where you are soaking.

Quick-clean: Disinfect your bathtub with bleach or bathroom cleaner after bathing then dry with clean towel. Drying it after cleaning lessens the chances for the bacteria to breed on your bathtub.

Importance of Proper Cleaning and Disinfecting

a family cleaning and disinfecting the house together

Aside from the bacteria that is dormant in our home, there is also the threat of the new novel coronavirus or COVID-19 that can be spread from person to person up to 6 feet away. This is known to be transmitted by respiratory droplet and the WHO is considering that it might be airborne.  Recent studies suggest that the virus may stay viable on surfaces for hours. Cleaning and proper disinfection at home may not only help eliminate the bacteria but also prevent such viruses from entering our home. Here’s what you should know regarding cleaning:

Cleaning is different from disinfecting. These two terms are used interchangeably. Cleaning refers to the removal of germs and dirt on surfaces. It does not help eliminate them. While, Disinfecting refers to the use of chemicals to kill these germs and viruses on surfaces. By eliminating these bacteria or viruses, it lessens the risk of a person from acquiring and spreading infection.

Reminders:

  • Always wear gloves when disinfecting. These can be reusable but make sure that this is durable and recommended for cleaning and disinfecting. You may also use latex gloves but make sure to properly discard it as infectious.
  • Always wash your hands before and after disinfecting the house.
  • For disinfection, use one EPA-registered household disinfectants as these are the ones that are proven effective against viruses such as COVID-19.
  • Weak skin protection and eye protection for possible splashing incidents.
  • Make sure that there is proper ventilation.
  • Always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure effectiveness and safety. Do not use more or less than the recommended mixture or dilution.
  • Electronics such as cellphones, tablet, iPad, remote controls and keyboard should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instruction. You may also use alcohol-based wipes or spray to disinfect them. Make sure to dry them thoroughly after to avoid pooling of liquids.
  • In doing Laundry, use the warmest appropriate water setting possible for the items and make them dry completely. Use bleach according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • For hard surfaces, use a multi-purpose disinfecting spray to disinfect surfaces and prevent growth of bacteria. Let the disinfectant stay for about 5-10 second before drying the surface clean.
  • Make sure to change your toothbrush regularly and provide a fresh hand towel every day. The bathroom’s hard surfaces is recommended to be disinfected 2x a day as this is the area most exposed to body fluids.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes Using Vinegar And Baking Soda

vinegar and baking soda

I bet every single household kitchen has a baking soda and vinegar as a part of their condiments. Did you know that these 2 ingredients are a key to a cleaner home? It is a well-known and proven way of disinfecting your home harm-free. We listed down some recipes that you can follow to achieve a squeaky-clean home!

What happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar?

We often use vinegar in cooking and baking soda in baking but these two, when mixed together, it produces a reaction that can clean your surfaces in a non-toxic way. Baking Soda, also called as sodium bicarbonate, is a mild alkali while Vinegar is an acid. When the two is mixed together it produces carbon dioxide gas which is seen in the formation of the bubbles in the mixture. The sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid reacts to the carbon dioxide, water and sodium acetate that helps remove the stains, mold and rust.

Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar

woman cleaning the kitchen

In the Kitchen

  • Clean a Stainless-steel Kitchen Sink. Wet the sink the sprinkle baking soda all-over the surface, scrub it for a minute two then rinse it afterwards. You may use a soft-bristled toothbrush and make a paste then spread it all over the sink. Put paper towels or cloth wet with vinegar then put it over the paste. Let it stay for about 20 minutes before rinsing it again.
  • Cleaning the Drain. Sprinkle about 4 tablespoons of baking soda followed by 2 cups of vinegar. You will see it foam. Once it stops, rinse it by flushing the drain with boiling water.
  • Cleaning Pots and Pans. Baking soda can also remove baked-on residues on your pots and pans. Just sprinkle it with baking soda, soak it for about 15 to 20 minutes then rinse it with dish detergent and hot water.
  • Cleaning the Dish washer. If you have a dishwasher, just run a cycle with only baking soda. You may also run the vinegar on the machine at least once a month to keep it clean and free from stains.
  • Cleaning the Refrigerator. Mix vinegar with water then use a spray bottle and spread it on your refrigerator. Aside from keeping your refrigerator clean, it is also an effective deodorizer. It removes that unwanted smell on your refrigerator.

On Foods

  • Store-bought produce. To clean your produce, mix two tablespoons of distilled vinegar with a pint of water. You may also use baking soda as an alternative for commercial produce wash. Vinegar and baking soda are effective in cleaning and removing the pesticides used on the fruits and veggies.
  • Meat. Aside from tenderizing the meat, vinegar can also be used to make sure that the meat is clean and has no bacteria. Make sure to marinate it up to 24 hours with a ¼ cup of vinegar before cooking.

In the Bathroom

a clean bathroom

Bathroom surface recipe:

  • Create a paste using 1 2/3 cup of baking soda and ½ cup of dish soap.
  • Mix the paste with ½ cup of water then add 3 tablespoons of water.
  • Make sure that the ingredients are well mixed and without any lumps.
  • To apply, put it on a spray bottle then squirt it on the area that is desired to be cleaned.
  • Let it stay for a minute or two then scrub it with a sponge.
  • When done, rinse it off with water. 

The Toilet. Sprinkle about ½ cup of baking soda on the toilet along with a diluted white vinegar. Let it soak overnight, scrub afterwards, then rinse.

Loofah. Soak the loofah for 24 hours in equal parts of water and vinegar to remove the soap residue and disinfect it.

When Doing Laundry

  • Washing. Mix a ½ cup of baking soda with your liquid detergent of choice at the beginning of the cycle. Baking soda helps whiten your clothes and make the color of the clothes brighter.
  • Cloth Hampers. To remove stinky odors of your laundry, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the hampers.
  • Socks. Socks are the nastiest piece of clothing as it often gets stained and dingy. Soak them on a pot of boiling water with a mix of cup of distilled white vinegar. Aside from removing the odor, it also makes the socks whiter and cleaner.

Other Household Cleaning Tips:

  • Carpet. Sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the carpet then vacuum it after 15 minutes. It helps keep the carpet odor-free.
  • Carpet stain. Stains on the carpet are very hard to remove and unsightly to look at. Make a paste using baking soda and white vinegar, rub it into the stain then leave it for a day. To remove, vacuum it the day after.
  • Floors. When cleaning the floor, mix a half cup of vinegar with a bucket of water as a rinse for the mop. It helps remove easily the stains on the floor and at the same time disinfects it.
  • Crayon Marks.  If you have a kid, you probably experienced crayon marks on the wall because your child loves to draw. Worry not because you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush that has been dipped on white vinegar to remove these marks on your wall.
  • Rusted Screw. Pour vinegar all over the screw and let it stay for a while. Vinegar helps break down the rust that has covered the screw.
  • Flowers.  To keep the flowers fresh, pour a mixture of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and one 1aurt of water into the vase.
  • Hairbrushes. One teaspoon of baking soda and warm water can be used in cleaning your combs. Make sure to rinse it thoroughly afterwards.

In summary, vinegar and baking soda are no ordinary condiments that you have in your kitchen. They can be more useful than just using it for cooking. They can also be used as an alternative cleaning material when mixed with the right ingredient. Usage of these items also minimize exposure to harmful substances as these two are considered as green ingredients. Try and see it work!

References:

www.rd.com/list/5-best-baking-soda-and-vinegar-cleaning-solutions/

www.angieslist.com/articles/home-cleaning-tips-vinegar-and-baking-soda.htm

www.hunker.com/12312114/how-to-make-cleaning-solution-with-baking-soda-and-vinegar