The experts will tell you: germs are everywhere. But the good news is that making your house a more hygienic environment doesn’t have to be a dreary chore. In fact, Just Another Mother blogger Rowena Newman, discovered it could be kind of fun. Especially if you get the kids on board.
I’ve never been a fan of horror movies. In around 1986, and against my better judgment, I attended a sleep-over party with a handful of other teenage girls, and watched a triple bill of Freddy Kruger. I didn’t dare sleep again until 1988 so spent many a long night vowing to NEVER watch a horror film again, and to this day I haven’t.
But I have found myself the unwilling participant in a real-life horror plot involving a working mum (I make a cameo here as myself), two small children co-starring with norovirus instead of Freddy Kruger as the antagonist. And together, we are the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
This reality-horror is set against a backdrop of heavy, no, TORRENTIAL rain for days on end. And while there isn’t blood aka Freddy Kruger, there is a LOT of vomit, diarrhea and dirty laundry. Oh, and did I mention that this horror story opens on a shot of a 4-year-old projectile vomiting into her mother’s skirt poolside at swimming lessons?
Now, pan back to your own living room. Like yours, my home is my haven and after a long working day, there’s nothing better than arriving home, kicking off my shoes, and flopping on the couch. It’s such a fragile sanctuary at times such as this, when my son’s classmates are dropping like flies with gastro. And while you can take the girl out of the microbiology lab, you can’t take the microbiologist out of the girl (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was a true-life microbiologist resplendent in white-lab-coat and safety glasses).
So, last week, whilst flopped-out on the couch, I noticed my handbag and its contents were strewn across the dining table and it dawned on me that I was staring down an ARMY of millions, or even billions of microscopic menaces intent upon bringing about the end of the world.
It wasn’t just the half-eaten packet of tiny-teddy biscuits and used tissues courtesy of my four-year-old. It was my purse and its contents. Some research I came across recently explained that the average purse or wallet has more germs on it than the average toilet flush button. Eeuw! Filthy lucre indeed.
And the horror-inducing research went on. It isn’t just our handbags we have to worry about. Apparently there are bacteria squatting on most of the everyday items around the house.
Let’s start with vacuums. Somehow I always knew vacuuming was hazardous. And sure enough it seems 50 per cent of vacuum heads tested had various different strains of bad boy bacteria on them, and a disconcerting 13 per cent had E. coli bacteria (that’s faecal matter, ie poo, eeuuw!).
Then there are toothbrushes. Yep. THE THINGS WE PUT IN OUR MOUTHS. Well, it turns out your mouth is home to masses of micro-organisms which jump onto your toothbrush while you’re cleaning. And as your toothbrush is mostly stored in the bathroom, which is usually the same space that houses the family toilet, intestinal bacteria can be transferred to your toothbrush via inadequate hand washing
or microscopic droplets released during flushing! Double eeuw!
Towels and even washing up sponges fall into the same potential ‘Horror movie remake starring your worst nightmare bug!’ category. The reality version of Nightmare on Elm Street?
So we even have to clean the cleaning equipment?! The answer is yes. But thankfully I’ve discovered it’s very easy. And it can even be fun. Stay with me here…
At the risk of losing all credibility, I am going to share that I did enlist the kids in a new ‘game’. It’s now known in our house as ‘ninja cleaning’. This involved, as it should, donning the ninja headscarf and a wrap-around karate tops (I improvised with a bathrobe). I prepared my list and like a cleaning Sensei, sent my minions out to search and destroy bugs.
We started with the vacuum: just a quick spray of a disinfectant on the vacuum head stops the germ transfer.
Next, the counter tops in the kitchen and the chopping boards. I soaped the boards in very hot water while the minions got to work wiping down the counters.
Then it was the bathroom. During ninja cleaning, running and squealing are optional, but the minions literally threw themselves at the towel collection and washing machine transfer and enjoyed the button-pushing and detergent-adding as well. Meanwhile, I rinsed all the toothbrushes and then put them in an antibacterial mouthwash to soak.
Finally, the cleaning sponges were soaked in disinfectant and hands were cleaned thoroughly. Excellent work ninjas. So a mineral water for the kids and just as I was about to add some lemon to mine, I remembered a study that showed up to 70% of the lemons used in those drinks you get in cafes and bars have disease causing microbes… Aghhh!
Rowena- Just Another Mother