The Complete Childproofing Guide

When it comes to mammals, humans have the most vulnerable babies beyond the point of birth. They are completely dependent upon their parents/carers and are born with relatively underdeveloped brains.

This means that human babies need more sustained help, and every parent knows that once their baby is able to move themselves, their home will need to go through a phase of childproofing.

This is no bad thing; after all, humans have positioned themselves at the top of the food chain, and unconditional support is one of the things you sign up to when you have children. Plus there’s a belief that our comparatively slow brain development is what enables us to surpass all other species, due to it allowing human babies the time to absorb their surrounding culture.

So, how exactly should you approach baby proofing your home? The answer is with extreme paranoia… sorry, only joking! This doesn’t need to be a stressful course of action, but you do have to reprogram your mind to consider what dangers there are in and around your home for a child – and it’s a process that evolves as they become more and more mobile.

Common accidents and injuries

According to the RoSPA, the largest numbers of accidents occurring in the home take place in the living/dining room, whereas the most serious accidents tend to take place in the kitchen or on the stairs. Meanwhile, accidents are statistically more likely for 0-4 year olds, with boys more prone to them than girls.

The nature of injuries can be quite wide-ranging, but can generally be categorised within the following areas:

Falls

Scalds & Burns

Glass-related

Poisoning

Suffocating & Choking

Strangulation & Blind Cords

Drowning

A good way to approach child proofing and to make it all less daunting is to systematically consider what needs to be done to make each room of your house a safe environment. Here are some pointers on what to look out for.

Kitchen

  1.  When your baby begins to actively crawl around, you’ll probably find them gaining satisfaction from endlessly opening drawers and cupboards. As a result, these will need securing first – because if it can be opened, then little ones can trap fingers and pull out whatever’s tucked away inside. There are plenty of locks available to counteract the curiosity of a child, from safety catches that fit inside a drawer, to sticky tabs and the more expensive magnetic catches. The best advice is to read up on reviews from other parents to find what is most durable and effective.
  2.  In the kitchen you’re bound to have several cleaning products and items of electrical equipment. Needless to say all of this needs to be kept well out of the way. The same goes for plastic bags, cardboard and any glass or tins. Ultimately use your common sense, if it can be broken/eaten/suffocating then be sure to have it out of reach.
  3. Hot pans and drinks are a common source of danger in the kitchen, and as your child grows you’ll have to adapt your habits. For example, once they are practicing their standing, they’ll suddenly be able to dramatically increase their reach. Start using the hobs at the back of your cooker and never leave drinks near the edge of your work surfaces.
  4. Spillages and breakages will occasionally happen when you’re cooking. Needless to say, these are gateways to falls and other potentially serious mishaps. Therefore, the best way to avoid any issues is to immediately and thoroughly clean them up.
  5. Finally, you have other utilities and furniture to keep an eye on. There will come a time when ovens, dishwashers, fridge freezers and washing machines all become accessible and further locks are required. Chairs can represent a tempting climbing frame too, so be sure to tuck them away to lessen their appeal.

Living Room

This is the part of your home that will probably contain the most risks, largely due to furnishings and furniture. Consideration must be given to things that were never before on your radar, for example remote controls (when chewed upon, their buttons can lead to a choking hazard).

  1. With that in mind, you’ll have to view each piece of furniture with suspicion. The truth is that your child will eventually see your bookcase as a heavily disguised ladder. Any furniture that could be pulled over must therefore be secured, and there are several varieties of straps and brackets that can do the job.
  2. Now that your furniture is not going to topple over, you should make sure that the accessible edges aren’t going to present a hard surface to fall head first into. As babies start to get more confident and develop their skills at manoeuvring, they also have a phase where they tumble and fall. Learning about balance can be hard! To counter this there are different corner protectors and sticky edge cushions available.
  3. If your TV is not attached to a wall, then it too will become accessible one day. However, as with your furniture, there are straps you can buy that are specifically designed to keep your TV intact and upright. Wiring in general should be kept under control, with cable ties or tubes a good option for minimising trips etc.
  4. If you happen to have a fireplace within your living room, then clearly these can present a serious danger, either due to heat or a hard surface. Depending on what you need there is lots out there to help, ranging from edge guards, soft furnished covers and gates/complete guards.

Bathroom

It’s fair to say that for their first few years, your child is unlikely to be unsupervised in the bathroom. During bath time in particular you should always be present, as a toddler only needs 3cm of water to drown.

  1. The temperature of the bath water should be approximately 37 °C, and you can keep track of this with some effective baby thermometers.  With regards to water depth, for newborns and up to 6 months old you want the water to cover their shoulders as they are unable to regulate their own body temperature at this stage. You can also use bath seats to make it easier to support them, but never rely on it as a tool to prevent drowning.For older children the water does not need to be more than waist high (sitting down), but you should consider a rubber non-slip bath mat to avoid falls.
  2. If you find it to be something that you need, you can even get hold of soft or inflatable style covers for your taps. There are some fun designs around that will reduce the impact of a fall or a still hot tap.
  3. Being the bathroom, you’re bound to have cleaning chemicals. Not just the ones that keep you smelling fresh, but also those that keep the room hospitable! All of these need to be kept out of the reach of curious little hands, so whether this means shelving, bathroom cabinets or cupboards, you know what to do. The same applies for medicines etc. and don’t forget locks for any doors.  Be mindful of radiators and towel rails which can easily cause burns, with some research it is possible to cover these up professionally, or you should at least use a towel itself. As for the toilet, you can prevent any unhygienic touching and the depositing of your mobile phone with a further lock.

Nursery/Bedroom

Even though this room will act as a personal sanctuary for your child, it should  – in theory – be the easiest room to make safe. This is the part of your home that is being specifically set up for your little one, whereas the remainder of it is being adapted to fit this need.

You should note in this section the important advice on buying cots and avoiding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  1. When it comes to moving your baby into their own room for the first time, you really want to have everything in place. The first thing to consider is their sleeping arrangements; it’s advised that you don’t place a cot near a window, which is once again due to babies having an inability to regulate their own temperature at a young age. For the same reasoning you should keep the cot away from radiators.As your child grows, it is still best to keep your furniture away from the window so they aren’t encouraged to climb up onto window sills.
  2. If you intend to have cupboards and drawers in this room, then obviously the same rules apply as before with regards to the need for locks. Personally I avoided these and went with storage that was high up on the wall – and therefore out of reach for years to come.
  3. It’s a good idea to have your changing table well-stocked with everything that you need at all times, and with one side against a wall. Your baby will at some stage learn to roll over and you’ll want to be focused when changing them to avoid a nasty drop.
  4. Doors can pose a danger to small fingers too. You can purchase finger guards which will prevent them being trapped in the space between the hinged edge and the door frame. Alternatively, there are foam guards that slot over the top of the door and act as a buffer when it closes.
  5. Baby monitors and window blinds with cords, can both lead to incidents of strangulation. To avoid such tragic circumstances, these types of monitors should be positioned so that they cannot be grabbed from a cot, and then tidied away when your child is roaming free in their nursery.

With regards to blinds with cords, European laws introduced in 2014 have made it illegal for these products to be sold unless they are fixed to the wall or include a snap-mechanism. On top of this, use your common sense and make sure that cords are positioned out of harm’s way.

Garden

Your garden should offer a safe space for your little one to explore and discover more about the world around them, but just like the inside of your home you’ll have to make sure it’s suitably safe.

  1. Babies & small toddlers are curious, and one of the ways that they begin to find out about things is by sticking it in their mouth. This is why small objects should be kept away, and why in the garden you’ll want to be aware of what plants could be harmful.
  2. If your garden contains a pond or water feature, then this should be securely fenced off or covered to make it safe. If this isn’t an option, then the best course of action is to remove it.
  3. Be sure to keep any chemicals or tools you have securely locked away – and when it comes to having BBQs or doing DIY, your child should be well supervised.
  4. Finally, it’s easy to forget that children have more vulnerable skin when they are out in the sun. Always take care to use sun cream that will sufficiently protect them from the rays as they play.

Other Safety Information

Stairs

As mentioned before, some of the most serious accidents for young children occur on the stairs. For their safety (and yours), this part of the house should be free from toys and clutter.

A stair gate is also a must, and depending on the design of your home, you’ll probably need one at the top and bottom of the stairs.

It’s also key to check that your carpet and banister are securely fastened and fitted into place.

Plug Sockets

In the past it has been recommended to cover up your numerous plug sockets, but normal household sockets in the UK are considered safe and there are now debates on how socket covers could actually increase the risk of electrocution.

Windows

When the time comes that your child is old enough to get to the window, you’ll want to ensure that they cannot then open them. The easiest option is to have lockable windows that only an adult has the key for. But there are also many guards, stops and locks that you can add if you do your research.

First Aid

In case you are ever in the situation when you need to deal with an emergency situation, you’ll want to know the correct techniques to respond. There are first aid courses available from St John Ambulance, Red Cross & NCT to name just a few.

Summary

Naturally you will always worry about the welfare of your child, especially when they are young and vulnerable.  But with the help of this guide, you should have a much clearer understanding of what’s needed to make your home a safe haven. The more children grow, the more their curiosity will aid them in learning about the wider world, all parents have to do is protect them from getting too many injuries as they do it!

SPRING CLEANING TOP TIPS

Valley Industrial Products Top 8 Spring Cleaning Tips for 2016

Every home needs at least one big clean a year; and spring is often considered the best time.
Historically, this was due to all the dust and dirt generated from burning coal, oil and wood through the dark, cold winter nights, but even today our homes are in need of big clean, following months of muddy shoes and boots being dragged through the home.

So, let’s shine those windows and move the furniture for a thorough deep clean.
Before you tackle your home, check out our tips for spring cleaning your house below, to make sure you don’t miss a spot.

1. Make a Schedule
Scope out your home: What areas need the most work? Where do you often leave off during routine cleaning? Those are the best places to start. Regardless of where you start, having a plan for when you’re tackling each room will keep you focused on the task at hand.

2. De-clutter
Studies have shown that a disorganised home adds to your stress level. The scientific implications of inhaling dust gathered on piles of old magazines – combined with the psychological stress of coming home to a pile of unsorted laundry after a hard day at work – can take a sudden, unexpected toll. Spend some time organising your wardrobes, spring cleaning your office, and finally looking into that junk drawer to eliminate unnecessary stress from your life.

3. Always Work from Top to Bottom
When you think about how to spring clean your home, it’s important to start from the ceiling down. This will force dirt downward and keep you from having to re-dust or re-clean your space. If you have a vacuum with a long extension hose, use it to get cobwebs and dust from your ceilings and fans. Then dust your furniture and other items before vacuuming all the dust from your floors.

4. Use a Vacuum
Spring cleaning on your carpets and rugs is very common this time of year. People often shampoo their carpet or have it professionally cleaned during the springtime.
This spring, don’t just use your vacuum on your floors. Nearly all vacuums come with attachments (like dusting brushes and crevice tools) and hoses that can be used to clean all over your house. Use these tools to clean ceiling fans, cobwebs in corners, furniture, pillows, and tight spaces like behind furniture. Be sure to move your furniture too (or at least vacuum under it).

5. Walls and Windows Need Love too
People almost always think to clean their floors during a good spring time clean, but they almost always forget about walls and windows. Most dust settles on the floor and other surfaces, but not all of it. Painted walls are pretty simple to take care of: Just use a sponge or damp microfiber cloth to wipe down walls (starting from the top). You can simply use a microfiber cloth to wipe down blinds too. From the outside, remove and wipe down the screens. When it comes to the actual window, using a steam cleaner with a squeegee is a great way to clean windows.

6. Don’t Be Scared of the Kitchen and Bathroom
The dreaded areas for most people…but don’t fear, you’ll get through it:-
Kitchens
• Wipe down your cabinets
• Clean out your ovens
• Go through your food cupboard and refrigerator, wipe down the shelves, and throw away any old items
• If you have stainless steel appliances, be sure to use gentle cleaners or a steam cleaner to avoid scratching or other issues
Bathrooms
• Change your shower curtain
• Go through your cosmetics drawer and throw away any expired items

7. Spring Cleaning Safety
Cleaning will more than likely unsettle all the winter dust on furniture and fixtures. If you suffer from allergies or are using heavy-duty cleaners, be sure to read the labels. For safe spring cleaning, wear rubber gloves, masks, scarves and even hairnets. Protective clothing will help guard against skin irritations and allergic reactions.

8. Let Spring Cleaning Set a New Tone
If your space feels dark and heavy, you can make small changes to help make it light and fresh for spring. Adding new colourful pillows or art are great ways to change up your space. Replacing items like bedding, towels, table linens, and even window treatments are other ways to transform your rooms for spring and warm weather ahead.

Finding a Safe Cleaning Solution

I came across a safety story today while browsing the HSE’s website and I have to say, despite the serious message it carries, it did make me giggle a little.

A manufacturing company moved into a new office that had linoleum floors, and straight away a very high number of slip and trip accidents were being reported. The company safety advisor was tasked with trying to identify the problem and approached the manufacturer of the floor cleaning products they used. They too could not establish the causes of these accidents and the product had never created a problem like this before.

The safety advisor then spoke with the cleaner and established that she was using regular washing up liquid instead of the right cleaning product. The reason she gave was that the floor cleaner was located on a different floor and it was ‘inconvenient’ for her to go and get it!

Subsequently, the floor was cleaned with the right product and the problem was resolved. They now store bottles of the cleaning product on each floor so the cleaner is never ‘inconvenienced’ again!

This story led me to thinking about a chap by the name of Ken Woodward. Ken suffered a workplace accident that resulted in him losing both eyes as a result of mixing two cleaning chemicals. The chemicals reacted together and exploded in Ken’s face. The explosion was so forceful chemical residue was found on the ceiling above the accident site, some 70 feet high!

It was only the quick reactions by work colleagues that saved his life; manhandling him into a shower and holding him under the water despite Ken’s attempts to get out.

His employer at the time, Coca Cola Schweppes, was charged with a breach of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and subsequently fined. The company estimated the total cost of the accident at around £2.6 million.

It goes without saying, that in comparison, the cost to Coca Cola Schweppes of providing suitable eye protection and some basic safety awareness training would have been negligible. For Ken of course, the cost of this easily avoidable accident can never be calculated in financial terms. Faced with the loss of sight, his determination to live an active life and raise awareness of workplace safety is quite inspiring and well worth reading about at: http://kenwoodward.co.uk/kens-accident/

Since the use of chemicals in the workplace and at home is such common practice, it is easy to be complacent and think nothing of the risks associated with their use.

However:
How many of us have actually read the label on the everyday products we use?
Would we know what to do in the event of an accident involving any of these substances?
What happens if they should become mixed together? Will they explode in your face, like they did Ken’s?

If you are unsure of the substances and chemicals you are using, read the labels. After all, that’s what they’re there for!

If you need further advice or wish to discuss your business requirements under the COSHH regulations please feel free to get in touch, one of our advisors will be more than happy to work with you to find a Simple Safety Solution

How office cleaning has changed for the better over the years

We have been slowly integrating new forms of technology into the office for many years now, so it’s no surprise that we have adopted new methods of office cleaning to ensure the workplace is in a splendid condition on a regular basis, for both commercial and health and safety purposes.

So how exactly has the shift taken place and what could we have expected from an office environment back in the 70’s and 80’s?

A lot of office furniture was recycled back in the old days so that expenditure was cut upon relocating; so many workplaces were seen as dull, drab and unpleasant places to work effectively in. In recent years we’ve seen offices develop into brighter, vibrant and much more enthusiastic environments that encourage a more pragmatic commercial business. The open plan concept has really taken off over the last decade and more people and treating their work space with respect in order to enjoy themselves a little more.

Here’s how new recycling methods and the introduction of technology over many years has contributed to a far more practical approach to office cleaning and ultimately a much improved working environment.

New technology
Vacuum cleaners are now as efficient as they’ve ever been. They offer enough suction to leave any type of flooring in the best possible condition and compact dust and debris enough so that you wouldn’t need to change the vacuum bag at all during the shift.

Many cleaning companies take advantage of the vacuums that can be carried rather than dragged to improve efficiency and get the job done much faster. Even the smallest of cleaning products has received a much needed technological boost, with cleaning rags and dusters now incorporating microfibers that kill germs once they’ve been trapped, meaning you won’t be helping superbugs spread around the office at all, costing your business time and money.

There’s nothing worse than staff shortages at the most demanding of times, so this is one reason why modern cleaning techniques have benefited businesses immensely.

Recycling
I don’t mean recycling old workplace furniture; instead I’m talking about recycling waste products. It’s important that businesses recycle as there are often plenty of employees stationed at one premises, so a build-up of waste products is to be expected.

Bins need to be sorted out nowadays to separate waste that can be recycled from stuff that can’t. By separating up recycling from everything else, you make the cleaners’ job a whole lot easier.

In the old days, most used items, food wrappers or products would be chucked away and forgotten about. Modern cleaning techniques encourage recycling in the workplace to contribute to a healthy environment and to keep your workplace in the healthiest possible condition all the time.

As far as the environment is concerned, there are other ways the modern office can promote health and safety besides recycling. Many cleaning agents used over 30 years ago would have contained harmful chemicals, so modern offices almost always use safe, environmentally-friendly cleaning agents.

Modern offices also use automated lighting to prevent lights being left on, subsequently wasting electricity. You will also find many modern offices helping the environment by recycling paper towels and ensuring any pest control methods were suitable and humane.

How to unblock a sink and other tips for regular Kitchen Cleaning

When it comes to your kitchen, hygiene is essential – food should never be prepared in dirty or bacteria-ridden environments. Regular cleaning is the only way to ensure good hygiene, but this is easier said than done, with so many different appliances becoming staples of the 21st century kitchen.

Obviously, the more you use an appliance to prepare food, the more frequently you should clean it. But here’s a quick guide to the different parts of your kitchen and how often they should be cleaned:

Kitchen Sink
Even with all the water and detergent that it comes into contact with, your kitchen sink still needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Every time you use it to wash raw meat, you should disinfect your sink afterward. If your sink gets a lot of use, it’s a good idea to wipe it down with dishwashing detergent at the end of every day. Otherwise, treat it to a thorough scrub every week or two. Helpful webpages can tell you how to unblock a sink, but to prevent this from happening, use a drain unblocker to keep your drains clean and odour-free.

Refrigerator
A dirty refrigerator breeds bacteria and mould, so it’s important to go through your fridge weekly and toss out any expired food. Also, wipe away any spillages immediately. A more thorough cleaning should be performed every month or two — this involves removing the trays and shelves, wiping them down with a spray detergent, along with the interior of the fridge, most importantly: don’t forget to disinfect your fridge door handle on a weekly basis!

Blenders, Slush Machines, Coffee Machines
Some people thrive on these appliances, so if you use them often, it’s also important to clean them often. Slush machines should be at least rinsed after every use, but given how sticky they can get, a more thorough cleaning with dishwashing detergent should be done monthly. Likewise, blenders and coffee makers should be washed or rinsed with every usage, but a thorough monthly cleaning is necessary to get rid of hard water deposits.

Dishwasher
Check your dishwasher frequently to clear away any food particles. A more thorough clean should be done every month: use a dishwasher cleaner to keep your dishwashers clean and in tip top condition. You should also wipe down the door with a spray and wipe cleaner.

Oven
For those ovens that aren’t continuously cleaning, it’s a good idea to clean your oven at least every other month with our Brawn Oven Cleaner. If a heavy duty oven clean is required you can also soak and scrub the racks until they’re free of any burnt-on grease.

Floor, counter, surfaces
For very busy kitchens, the floor, counter, and other surfaces should be wiped down and disinfected daily with a Catering Degreaser to dissovle and float away the toughest grime. Otherwise, you can get away cleaning the floor once a week, but counters and surfaces should still be cleaned every day.

Microwave
Remove and wash the glass trays, and wipe down the microwave interior with a spray detergent at least once a week. And remember to clean the outside panels and door handle too.

Freezer
For maximum efficiency and cleanliness, freezers should be emptied and defrosted once a year, or once half an inch of ice crystals builds up on the interior surfaces of your freezer.

Toaster
This should be emptied of crumbs once a month. Wipe down the exterior while you’re at it.

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The 21 Germiest Places You’re Not Cleaning

People avoid touching the obviously dirty things — toilet bowls, garbage cans, anything in a public restroom. But for every well-known nasty, there are a host of under-the-radar threats we put in our mouths, roll around on all night, and regularly rub on our faces. In an effort to keep clean, happy, and healthy, here are 21 surprisingly dirty things and what to do about them.

KITCHEN

Sponges

It’s easy for bacteria and food particles to get trapped in the crevasses of sponges, creating ideal conditions for bacteria to breed [1]. Moist, dark — what else could bacteria ask for?!

What to do: Try antibacterial sponges and dish soaps to limit the lesser of bacteria evils — but neither are very effective at controlling the spread of big name baddies like E. Coli and Salmonella [2]. Be extra safe by disinfecting sponges at least once a week by soaking in a bleach solution for 5 minutes, or microwaving on high for two minutes. (The microwave method has even been shown to kill 99 percent of bacteria[3]!)

Kitchen Buttons, Knobs, and Handles

Taking something from the fridge, grabbing spices from the cabinet, preheating the oven, zapping something in the microwave — a lot goes into cooking a meal, including any bacteria from that raw chicken or unwashed produce.

What to do: To minimize the risk, some experts recommend using a disinfectant on any frequently used kitchen surfaces several times a day, especially before and after preparing a meal. Keep it carefree by keeping antibacterial wipes right on the counter for easy access.

Cutting Boards

With all the ingredients flying around that kitchen, it’s hard to keep designated cutting boards for each type of food. (Fresh veggies tossed on a board right after a raw steak probably isn’t such a good idea). But this hotbed for cross-contamination is essential to keep clean. Scientists debate whether wood or plastic makes for a better board: Plastic boards seem safer and easier to clean (because they’re not porous), but once they’re scored from repeated slicing, it’s hard to clean the microscopic grooves[4]. Wood sucks bacteria down into its core, but researchers disagree about whether bacteria ever resurface; one study noted that heavily used wooden boards were more problematic than new ones.

What to do: Keep plastic boards clean by regularly running through the dishwasher (or washing with near-boiling water if the dishwasher isn’t an option). Consider microwaving wooden ones to get the bad guys out. (But be careful — some folks have managed to catch their cutting boards on fire.) Let both boards air-dry completely before storing to minimize potential bacteria growth. But since the research is really mixed, just be sure to replace heavily nicked boards regularly.

Drip Coffee Maker

Even though coffee itself has some antimicrobial properties, coffee makers still need to be cleaned [5] [6]. Most home coffee makers don’t get hot enough to kill anything growing in the wet, dark environment of the water reservoir or the machine’s internal piping.

What to do: Running a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar through the machine once a month may help inhibit the growth of mold and some bacteria. Let half the mixture run through the machine, then switch it off for an hour before finishing the cycle. And don’t forget to deep-clean the carafe!

BEDROOM

Pillows

Pillows aren’t just packed with feathers — turns out they can also be home to several types of allergy-inflaming fungi [7]. (Ick.) And all those hours spent sweating, shedding skin, and drooling like a sheepdog also create ideal conditions for dust mites, another potential allergy trigger.

What to do: In addition to regularly laundering bedding (specific instructions below), anti-allergen covers can help protect pillows from outside germs getting in and keep the sneezy stuff (down, anyone?) inside [8].

Sheets

Take all the reasons to be worried about pillows and add sweat to the tune of up toone liter per night.

What to do: Washing and drying everything on the highest heat available is a good policy, but regular bleaching is a good idea, too. (In fact, studies suggest a good hot wash and dose of bleach will not only kill bacteria on the cloth, but also cleans out the machine so germs aren’t continuously spread around [9].)

BATHROOM

Bath Mat

Bath mats sit there, soaked with shower water and pressed up against the floor, slowing evaporation and providing the dark, damp environment mold and bacteria love. Add to that the fact bathroom floors have been shown be one of the most contaminated parts of the bathroom (toilet bowl excluded, of course) and it’s obvious why we should put some brainpower towards that bath mat [10].

What to do: Launder mats once per week on the highest heat and with bleach (if possible — defer to the mat’s washing instructions, especially if it has rubber backing). And (clearly) keep separate from any bedding or clothes. Wooden mats may be an easier option, since surface disinfectants can replace regular laundering, but it’s important to remember to disinfect the floor to avoid re-infecting a clean mat.

Laundry Basket

All the grime from sweaty workout gear, underwear, and bedding sits in that laundry bag, soiling the hamper itself.

What to do: Try using one bag for dirty clothes, and one for the clean stuff, and wash the dirty bag along with the clothes! For hard plastic hampers, use any hard surface disinfectant, but be wary of anything with the potential to discolor (i.e. bleach).

Makeup and Makeup Brushes

People shouldn’t get diseases from getting dolled up, but cosmetics have been known to do just that [11]! Eye makeup seems to be the greatest cause for concern; one study found that within just three months of use, 40 percent of tested mascara tubes had some creepy crawlies growing in them [12] [13].

What to do: A good rule of thumb is to replace eye makeup every season; toss lotions and liquid foundation every six months; and get fresh power-based products, lipstick, and nail polish every two years.

Toothbrushes

Studies have found that flushing the toilet can spew bathroom-related bacteria into the air [14] [15]. (Ick!) Needless to say, it’s a good idea to store that toothbrush far away from the potential contaminants (and close that lid before flushing!).

What to do: The ADA suggests making sure to rinse toothbrushes thoroughly after use, allow them to dry completely, and replace every three to four months. And while they don’t deem sanitizing necessary, they do discourage sharing toothbrushes. That said, for those who were recently sick (or are sickened by the thought of germs) rinsing in a milk bleach solution is am effective disinfectant, as is running toothbrushes through the dishwasher [16]. And while it may seem that antibacterial mouth rinses (like Listerine) could be a good alternative to bleach, one study found that it was only about as effective as allowing the brush to air dry, although there are other brands (specifically Crest-Pro Health) which worked better [17].

Towels

We shower to get clean, so it’d be silly to get dirty drying off. But reusing damp bath towels could be doing just that! Drying down after the shower doesn’t just get rid of the excess water — it takes with it dead skin cells and bacteria, too (including the dreaded staph infection).

What to do: The risks are low if towels are changed out about once a week and are allowed to dry completely between uses. While antimicrobial towels do exist, their efficacy and necessity are debatable — they could help cut down on smells, but that seems to make it easier to forget about cleaning them.

Contact Lenses

One study found that more than 80 percent of tested contact lens cases were contaminated with bacteria, regardless of the system used to clean (no-rub solution or hydrogen peroxide) [18]. (And some suggest inadequate cleaning instructions are to blame! [19])

What to do: Star by wiping out contact lens cases after each use and replace it every month (or at least clean by soaking in near-boiling water for a few minutes). If using a fancy hydrogen peroxide cleansing case, just allow fresh solution to sit in the case for 24 hours before using [20].

ON-THE-GO

Headphones

Those little buds aren’t just at risk from what they pick up in the bottom of that gym bag — using them for just one hour has been shown to coat headphones with bacteria from the ear [21].

What to do: Using water with electronic accessories is tricky, but audiophiles can clean detachable rubber nubbins (technical term) by soaking them for 15 minutes in a vinegar and water solution and letting them sit for 10 more minutes in water before drying. For the un-detachable kind a gentle mixture of soap and water should be used on the plastic exterior, and a clean toothbrush can remove any lint from the grill.

Keys

Anyone who drives — or just plans on returning home at the end of the day — probably has a set in their pocket, but who thinks about keeping keys clean?

What to do: The fact that many keys are made of brass, a copper alloy, offers some protection because it’s naturally antibacterial [22] [23] [24]. But occasionally scrubbing keys with plain ol’ soap or using a disinfectant probably won’t hurt, and at the very least shining them up offers some aesthetic benefits.

Handbags

A study of office workers found that women’s purses were one of top three dirtiest things they touched throughout the day. In fact, one (very small) study found E. Coli on 25 percent of purses tested (out of a 50 purse sample).

What to do: Common sense (don’t rest it on the bathroom floor) and regular cleaning are enough to minimize risk. Wipe leather purses with a disinfectant wipe every few days, and put washable ones through the laundry (or send to the dry cleaner) as often as once per week.

Phone

Studies have repeatedly cited mobile phones as risk factors for infection, and we largely have our own unwashed hands to blame [25] [26] [27]. (One study found fecal bacteria on 1 in 6 phones!)

What to do: The clean up is simple: Power down the device once per week (more during cold and flu season) and wipe with a disinfectant cloth.

Yoga Mats

The idea of a communal mat is inherently gross. Who wants to roll around in somebody else’s sweat for an hour? Wrestlers have long dealt with outbreaks of ringworm, staph, and even herpes from similarly sweaty wrestling mats, and now some doctors are suggesting the new surge in cases of athlete’s foot and plantar warts is tied to the growing popularity of yoga [28] [28].

What to do: Bringing a mat to hot yoga or Bikram may be even more important because of all the nasty fungi and bacteria sweat expels from pores, but bringing a personal mat isn’t much better if it isn’t cared for properly (or if loaned to friends). To keep it clean, pick a side that will always face up and attempt invest in a yoga towel to keep sweat off the mat itself. And a routine Clorox wipe swipe isn’t a bad idea, either. After every use make sure to hang mats up so both sides can dry completely, and periodically scrub mats with a tiny bit of dish soap and water.

Gym Bag

If it’s regularly being packed with sweaty shirts that have been exposed to all manner of germs from the gym, why don’t we wash it as often as the clothes themselves? And this may not just be a smelly misstep — some researchers believe dirty gym bags could be responsible for spreading infections.

What to do: Consider storing dirty clothes in a separate mesh pouches or a sealable plastic bag (just make sure not to forget and let it fester) for transporting. Empty and air out bag between uses to limit bacteria growth. But the bag itself is likely getting left on locker room floors, which are known to harbor infectious microbes, so give it a once-over with disinfectant wipes and send through the wash on the hottest setting once per week.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated and healthy seem to go hand in hand, but be wary — coliform bacteria (which E. coli falls under!) can coat the inside of reusable plastic bottles if they’re not cleaned carefully [30]. In fact one study of students’ water bottles found they were so dirty that, had the water come from the tap, the government would have classified it as unfit to drink [31]!

What to do: Choose a wide-mouthed bottle for easier cleaning and drying, and opt for a hard material that won’t get scratched during vigorous cleaning (like stainless steel). In addition to regular washing, soak in a bleach solution for two minutes once per week (and rinse and dry completely).

Shoes

Studies have found shoes can track significant amounts of bacteria indoors, infecting clean floors [32] [33]. Some research has found shoes to more specifically transport E. coli and bacteria that can cause pneumonia. And it’s no surprise — sidewalks certainty aren’t regularly disinfected!

What to do: There’s no perfect solution, but an easy fix one study suggests instituting a no-shoes policy inside the house [34].

LIVING ROOM

TV Remote

A hospital hygiene study found that the remote controls were three times dirtier than anything else in the room, while another study found that nearly half of the remotes tested positive for antibiotic-resistant staph [35].

What to do: Wipe down remote controls with any hard surface disinfectant or a handy dandy antibacterial wipe regularly — and especially if it’s been used by a sick person recently!

 

Posted by  on February 13, 2014