by Wayne Vaughan, RN, Director of Compliance and Safety, FastMed Urgent Care
Squirming at the thought of germs? With COVID-19 on the rampage sensitivity to hygiene has skyrocketed and for good reason. Routine household chores are great for general cleanliness, but disinfection is more critical than ever before. Taking extra precautions to sanitize correctly and thoroughly can help you and whoever you share your home with stay healthy. Here’s what to focus on:
Not surprisingly, living and family rooms are abundant with different germs. Items such as remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, and tablets are known for extreme dirtiness. Wiping everything down once a week with an antimicrobial wipe will reduce the spread of germs. Carpets in homes can also house pathogens — sometimes getting dirtier than a city street! Sanitize area rugs and carpets using one part clear household ammonia and four parts of warm water applied via a spray bottle.
Germs, mildew, and mold quickly flourish on wet laundry. If laundry has been sitting in the washer for 30 minutes or longer, it should undergo a second wash to reduce the number of germs accumulating.
Bathroom Best Practices
Doorknobs, pulls, handles, and switches are some of the dirtiest surfaces in the house. Bathrooms, in general, have many areas that may result in being exposed to bacteria and fungi, including washcloths, hand and bath towels, floors, and even toothbrushes. Towels should be changed frequently, and toothbrushes should be replaced every two to four months or immediately after an illness. Wipe all surfaces daily with an antimicrobial disinfecting wipe and deep clean the toilet bowl, shower, and other hard-to-get areas at least once per week. If you run out of wipes, mix three tablespoons of bleach with one gallon of water. After cleaning, wait 3-5 minutes before drying with a clean towel.
Although kitchens get cleaned frequently, they are notorious hosts for pathogens. Staphylococcus, yeasts and mold, salmonella, and e-coli can build up as a result of raw foods, consistent sink usage, and other activities. Counter spaces and surfaces throughout the kitchen should be wiped down thoroughly before and after food preparation – even after general use – with an antimicrobial wipe. Use a clean one for each surface to reduce cross-contamination. If you do use a sponge to clean or do the dishes, make sure to heat it in the microwave in between cleans to kill off any bacteria.
Let’s face it: we’re constantly on our phones, laptops, and other digital tools, so they host many different germs. Placing tools down on a number of different surfaces — from the bathroom countertop to the public restaurant table — exposes them to a lot. During this work-from-home period, it’s especially important to sanitize your work and school instruments. Regular cleaning of all devices is a great way to ensure they remain germ-free. Using disinfectant wipes on nonporous surfaces like laptop keys and phone screens is safe for both your health and your tools.
About the Author
During Wayne’s 30-year tenure in the healthcare field, he has maintained a continuous focus on healthcare management, compliance, and process improvement. He has served in many roles in the field of nursing including time spent in the emergency room, pediatrics, orthopedics, biopharmaceutical medicine, and urgent care. Much of his time spent in nursing has been working side by side with those providing accreditation, including The Joint Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
FastMed is the largest urgent care operator in Arizona that is accredited by The Joint Commission for its healthcare quality and safety standards.