A Simple Way We Keep Germs Away

posted by Andrea | 10/6/2015
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I am certainly not a health or nutrition expert in any way (nor do I want to be one). However, I am pretty good at simplifying almost everything 🙂

So as we approach cold and flu season, I thought I’d share one of the simplest things we do around our house to keep the germs away.

WE WASH OUR HANDS ALL THE TIME!

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I’ll be honest, I was never really a huge stickler for hand washing until I met Dave. In fact, for as neat and clean as I am, I was never a huge germaphobe either.

However, Dave is always washing his hands and would get annoyed if I wouldn’t. And after having kids, I realized how dirty and gross their hands got… as well as how awful it is when they get sick.

So I started washing my own hands a lot more and insisting that the kids wash their hands very regularly as well.

We all wash our hands before and after we eat anything, when we come inside, when we finish playing with friends, when we come home from any public place, and of course, after we go to the bathroom or change diapers.

We use soap and water when we’re at home, and I carry baby wipes and sanitizer in my purse and diaper bag.

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Initially, as you can probably imagine, the kids weren’t super excited about our frequent hand washing requests. But over the past couple of years, I’ve made a few changes to get them a bit more excited.

1. We use foaming soap.

This might sound really insignificant, but my kids love the foaming hand soap, so hand washing has almost become a fun, game-like activity for them.

Also, a frugal tip — you can make your own foaming hand soap for pennies. Then it doesn’t matter how much they use 🙂

2. I have step stools by every sink.

Again, this might not sound like a big deal, but by having step stools at every sink, they can wash their hands themselves — which they like.

I do realize that by letting them wash their own hands, they are potentially not doing a fabulous job. However, right now, I think it’s a good skill for them to develop, and honestly, it’s one less thing I need to do for them which is fabulous!

3. I stopped caring if my bathrooms were super clean.

I clean the bathrooms every weekend, and if people are coming over, I’ll do a quick clean right before they arrive. However, for the rest of the week, I’ve given up caring if my bathrooms have water drips all over the counter and the floors — and you better believe they have water drips all over the place.

4. I always keep sanitizer and wipes with me.

I promise you, I’m not one of those people who is wiping down the shopping carts, or disinfecting the swings before my kids touch anything. However, if we are going to eat and there isn’t a sink around, I will at least going to wipe their hands with a baby wipe or use hand sanitizer.

Before anyone says anything about how using hand sanitizer isn’t good for kids, let me just say that I DO realize that it’s important for kids to build up a good immune system, but I also don’t want to be in and out of the Dr. office and pharmacy all winter long with sick kids.

5. I model good behavior.

Last, but certainly not least, I wash my hands very regularly throughout the day — not only so that I don’t get sick, but so my kids see me washing them.

Washing your hands regularly is such a simple thing to do, and it might just save you loads of time waiting in your Dr. office, loads of money on prescriptions and co-payments… and best of all, loads of laundry (ever have a sick kid in the middle of the night?) Not fun!

Of course, by writing this, I’m almost guaranteeing that someone in our family will get sick next week — but for the most part, our family has been very healthy the last few years.

We’ve had a few stuffy noses and one ear infection last year, but no stomach bugs for a long LONG time!

Do you have any other quick tips for keeping germs away?

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21 comments

  1. Pat Harris

    10/31/2015

    I absolutely love baby wipes for lots of things beginning with hand cleaning. Lately I’ve been making trips to Chicago (700 miles from my home) to visit with my elderly dadd and I take baby wipes to the public restrooms every time. Sometimes they run out of toilet paper or hand soap and baby wipes come to the rescue. I now keep them in my purse all the time. I have grandkids and when the youngest poop I use baby wipes on them too. They are also good for quick clean ups in the car especially on my leather interior.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we LOVE baby wipes over here too!!

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  2. J.C.

    10/17/2015

    I recently became a consultant for Norwex, a great company that makes cleaning products that just use water to physically clean & remove germs with microfibers rather than chemically kill them like other products do. They’ve been amazing for helping my son who is immune compromised stay healthy, especially since we’re approaching cold & flu season (they can even remove viruses & bacteria from surfaces!). Andrea, if you’re interested in learning more about them, let me know & I can give you more information about them & send you a one of the cloths so you can try it out for yourself!

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  3. Kristen

    10/11/2015

    I like the Babyganics hand sanitizer! It’s foaming, unscented, and alcohol-free 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’ve been noticing this brand popping up at our local grocery store in the baby section. I might need to check them out! Thanks!

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  4. Monica

    10/07/2015

    We would even change the children’s clothing and possibly give them a bath after being with children that were even somewhat sick. We noticed a change in the “oh, the kids are sick on Tuesday after attending church on Sunday” saying. We passed it on to our family and friends and they all say it works!

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  5. Sue R

    10/07/2015

    One thing I always do when we eat out is wipe the tabletop with a disinfectant wipe. Sounds crazy but if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant you know how clean those rags are they use to wipe those tables! GROSS!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I often wipe down the tables too — and we have a little travel placemat with suction cups for Simon since he throws plates on the floor 🙂

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  6. Amy

    10/07/2015

    Oooo, Andrea…..you might like these! These seem to be healthier and they smell lovely! We carry them all the time now 🙂

    http://www.amazon.com/Cleanwell-All-natural-Sanitizer-Vanilla-1-Ounce/dp/B004A7JDF2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1444230138&sr=8-3&keywords=cleanwell+hand+sanitizer

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — thanks for sharing Amy!

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  7. Karen

    10/07/2015

    There is are a few other things that I think get overlooked when we think about keeping our families healthy: taking care of the garbage and doing the dishes and laundry. In some ways, we may think “of course” but in another way, I have seen many moms throw off their housework with the thought that spending time with our children is “more” important. I believe this is an error. We shouldn’t be pitting one against the other. One or both will suffer…my thoughts!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, Yes, and YES!!!

    Thanks for sharing this Karen — I could not agree more!

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  8. Erika

    10/07/2015

    I used to get sick ALL THE TIME! I definitely did the “usual” handwashing – before eating, after using the bathroom, cooking, etc. But was still constantly sick. And then I realized that because of my job, I was in and out of apartment buildings and stores all day long – touching elevator buttons, door handles, shopping carts…And I bite my nails…ICK!!!!!! In addition to working on eradicating my nasty little habit, I started carrying around and using hand sanitizer when I couldn’t get to a sink. I have a big bottle on my desk that I use to refill my purse-size bottle. And oh my goodness, what a difference! Especially in the cold months, when everybody else seems to be sneezing!
    So, YAY for hand sanitizer and baby wipes! I may not have kids yet, but when I do, handwashing and being cognizant of germs will be top of my list!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Glad you figured it out and aren’t getting sick nearly as much. Did you overcome your nail-biting habit yet?

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  9. Lauri

    10/06/2015

    Yes washing hands a lot really matters!! I always told my kids try not to touch mouth, eyes or nose because germs get into your body that way. I also found a great product Qore 24 I recommend it highly

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  10. Elizabeth Dilts

    10/06/2015

    My brother is a cardiologist and when he was going through his training, he gave me a good tip that he had learned: If you don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes, your chances of getting sick drastically decrease. Easy for an adult to practice, not so easy to teach kids! We try to keep reminding our boys not to put anything but food in their mouths. For whatever reason, 3 year olds feel the need to taste everything! But one or two sick nights and ours now understands that if he puts his hands or anything else but food in his mouth, he might get germs. And the Curious George germ episode is very handy with teaching that too!

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    Liane Reply:

    That is so true and ironic. In our unit the cardiothoraxic surgeons routinely pulled chest tube sans gloves and did not wash their hands between patients. The cardiologists listened to breath sounds on our post op patients and used the same stethoscope from on patient to the next. This is in a big teaching hospital. I was appalled. But you are so right about touching the face. I’m much more concerned about food borne illness than common colds and flu.

    And while we are on that subject, how about those lovely co workers who go to work sick and share since they used up all their sick leave staying home with their kids? Workplace, eating places and grocery stores all just need a level of awareness.

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  11. Liane

    10/06/2015

    Hi Andrea,
    Nurses are probably more into this than most people. Except the terminally OCD.
    As part of my education I had to take swabs from places I thought were dirty and then culture them. I found the following:
    E. coli on my toilet flush lever
    Staphylococcus on a drinking fountain at a preschool
    Salmonella in my own fridge!

    I developed a germ protocol when my husband was on chemo and vulnerable. I also learned friction and not chemicals remove most germs. Granted those things I listed are food born illness related but they can make you pretty sick. So figuring most folks err wipe, flush then wash hands, I should clean the lever frequently. So daily I swab the bowl, use a wipe on the rim and lever, wipe the faucet handles, and while at it wipe the marble counter. Takes less than one minute per bathroom and if Queen Elizabeth should come calling unannounced I would not have to scramble to make sure the sink had no toothpaste dregs and the bowl no other evidence.

    I also did switches when he was on chemo but not now.

    One thing you will find with boys is there are worse things dripping on the bathroom floor than water. I could care less about water but…

    As for shopping carts. You have no idea how many sick people touch those and you touch that thing and then touch your food which then touches you fridge and counters. In stores I use the free wipes. I just assume from my observance of people in public restrooms that a lot of people do not wash their hands like we do. I just saw a woman change a diaper at Target who left evidence of her task behind and then cavalierly grasped the door handle with her dirty hand after wiping something on her pants. Ick. What if she grabbed a cart after that act of disregard for common courtesy and the public health?

    But now the fun stuff. I have noticed kids love to have sticky hands. Where adults go running for a sink kids just stay sticky. Most of my kid hand washing was due to food. But we always made them wash after playing in the yard, after school and before lunch.

    I used to teach a community adult Ed class held in a local school gym. The bathroom there had no soap, no hot water and no paper towels. So I think we need to teach them to wash or use sanitizer not because we’re germophobes but because things like E. coli and hepatitis can kill them. I can deal with a cold. Not sure I want to have a full blown case of dysentery.

    Another reason to be more vigilant is the enormous influx of immigrants whose cultures do not include the fastidious habits of native born American citizens who have been bombarded with anti germ messages for their entire lifetimes. I am not making a blanket statement here about all immigrants, but rather a reflection based on working in the community in public health and disease prevention. Three recent news items in my local paper were about restaurant shut downs because there was E. coli in the salad greens and listeria in the sour cream. One was a Chipotle style place and one was Asian.

    Food for thought! I’m not paranoid but rather just painfully aware of what is out there.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, you’re probably right. I’m not a “germaphobe” but then when I read comments like yours, I feel like I should be more worried about all the germs everywhere.

    At least we wash our hands a lot… righ?!!

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  12. Jill

    10/06/2015

    I always wash my hands after we’ve been out and about, and I make my toddler and husband do it, too. Sometimes, they grumble, but it’s better than spreading “outside” germs all over the house!

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  13. Luba

    10/06/2015

    At work I clean my desk on Monday because I see people sitting at it on Friday and coughing! Also, I keep door knobs and light switches (frequently touched objects) cleaned!

    Also, we love Defense essential oil. It’s great as a dietary supplement as well as in the diffuser. The smell is absolutely amazing!

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