Your A to Z Guide: Household Germs that Pose the Biggest Threat to Our Health
You like to think of your home as clean and safe. After all, there’s no way there could be dangerous germs or bacteria growing in everyday places like your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. Right? Wrong! The average home plays host to a surprisingly large amount of germs and bacteria – your kitchen sink, wooden spoons, pillows and a variety of other places could have germs lurking. Here’s a rundown of some of the germs and bacteria that might make you sick, where you’re likely to find them, and the household hygiene practices that can help you get rid of them for good.
Also known as staph, this bacterium commonly lives in households. MRSA is a particular strain of staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics and as a result, very difficult to treat. Staph infections can be picked up from household items and spread via close contact and the sharing of certain items, such as towels or razors. How can you help prevent it? Limit your sharing of intimate items such as towels (have a different colour one for each family member), cleaning any wounds properly and using thick bleach and hot water to thoroughly wipe down surfaces that are often touched by bare skin, such as bathroom and kitchen counters, doorknobs and taps.
E coli is a type of bacteria that actually occurs naturally in people and animals, found in the intestines and faecal matter. Unfortunately, e. coli can end up in food and in your household through poor hygiene practices when food comes into contact with faecal matter. This occurs through poor washing of hands, or from the surfaces used when you cook and prepare, such as utensils, chopping boards and kitchen counters. It can also happen when food is bought from shops, as they can be contaminated during the production processes – for example through soil which comes into contact with fruit or vegetables. How do you prevent E.coli? Here are some tips:
- Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly under running water
- Always keep raw meat and fish separate, and don’t cross contaminate. Use separate chopping boards for raw meat and other foods, and store them on the bottom shelf of your fridge to prevent any juices from dripping on to other food
- Make sure to wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap, particularly when cooking
- Close the toilet lid when you flush. This provides germ protection by stopping faecal particles from escaping when you flush, making it harder for them to come into contact with other areas of the house.
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis and is commonly found is households. It is highly contagious and spreads easily, explaining why entire households often come down with ‘stomach flu’ one after another. Norovirus is contracted through touching a surface with the bacteria, and then touching your nose or mouth. To help prevent the spread of norovirus, make sure that everyone always washes their hands thoroughly with hot water and soap, and that areas often touched are wiped down with disinfectants. Be vigilant when cooking and preparing food, and wash your hands very carefully after using the bathroom.