We often don’t even realize what our dirty habits are around the home. Whether it’s snuggling with Fido on the couch (aw, but he’s so sweet!) or roaming around the hardwoods in your street shoes (cause they’re darn comfy!), we've all turned a blind eye to germs. Unfortunately, you may be harboring bacteria and bugs because of it. Here are some simple solutions to seven foul common practices.
1. Placing your freshly traveled suitcase on your bed.
Ick factor: Have you been watching the news lately? Not such a good idea with the nation’s bedbug epidemic!
Simple solution: “Take the clothes out of the suitcase by the door and put them straight into the laundry. Then, wrap the suitcase in a garbage bag,” says Leslie Reichert, nationally-recognized green homekeeping expert, author of The Joy of Green Cleaning and founder of The Cleaning Coach, www.greencleaningcoach.com.
2. Wearing your city shoes around the house.
Ick factor: According to researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, the potentially toxic contaminants found in house dust may be coming from a type of sealant used on parking lots and other paved surfaces. You’re also dragging in “allergens [like pollen] and just plain dirt,” says Reichert.
Simple solution: Place a basket by the front door to drop shoes in and another basket to pick up slippers (even for guests!), recommends Reichert. Having a party? Deep clean the floors afterwards with an allergen-friendly HEPA vacuum cleaner.
3. Keeping the toilet seat lid open while flushing.
Ick factor: Kind of like your toilet just sneezed, imagine “your business” particles floating in the air and landing on your clean bathroom counters. Gross, right? “Germs get into the air while flushing and this causes terrible indoor air quality in the bathroom,” says Reichert.
Simple solution: Close the toilet seat before you flush, suggests Reichert. And if you’re not a fan because of the “slam!” then get yourself some no-slam lids to gently glide down, even when you whack them shut. If you’re in a public place, it’s more difficult to dodge the spray, so your best bet is to choose the family restroom, which has only one toilet, says Reichert.
4. Sharing bath towels with your hubby and kids.
Ick factor: “This can potentially spread skin organisms, like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), atype of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics, and may cause skin and other infections,” says Dr. Amesh A. Adalja of the department of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Simple solution: Adalja advises using your own designated towel and to wash it on the hottest setting on the washing machine once a week.
5. Putting off washing bed sheets.
Ick factor: “Not washing sheets can potentially spread skin organisms amongst bed sharers,” says Adalja. What’s more, dust mites and their feces collect in your linens.
Simple solution: Scrub sheets once a week in hot water of at least 140 degrees. “If you are allergic to dust mites, you may need to wash more often,” says Reichert. “I would wash mine every night like Oprah if I had the time, money and staff! ”
6. Moving your purse from bank counter to kitchen counter.
Ick factor: The bottom of your purse is a breeding ground for bacteria! Think of all the nasty places you set it down—on the floor at the movies, restrooms and mall, to name a few.
Simple solution:“If your purse is made of manmade materials like canvas, swab the bottom of it when you get home with alcohol, Lysol or Clorox wipes. For leather and suede, it’s a bit trickier to not ruin the material. I recommend buying a purse hook and simply hang it instead of placing it down wherever you go,” says Maria Vizzi of Indoor Environmental Solutions in New York, www.iesnyc.com. Purse hooks range from $5-$25. We love these from La Di Da: www.etsy.com/shop/myladida.
7. Allowing your dog on the couch and in bed.
Ick factor: You know this already—dogs carry fleas, ticks and allergens from outside.
Simple solution: Heel, puppy! Teach your animal to stay on the floor and off your human lounging and snoozing areas. Plus, vacuum the floor daily (or as often as you can), advises Reichert. Consider investing in a robot to do the job—as in the Irobot Roomba 562 Pet Series Vacuum Cleaning Robot (approximately $399). This Frisbee-sized disk automatically roams your floors, sucking up pet dander, dust and dirt.