Home Hygiene

Given the events of the last year, we’ve all discovered that good personal hygiene is more necessary than we’d ever imagined before. Washing our hands thoroughly, using hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and good old hot water have become the new staples of our lives. But are we keeping our homes clean as well?

Bacteria and viruses can live for a surprisingly long time outside the human body. Influenza can be infectious for up to 24 hours on a hard surface, the simple common cold can survive for up to seven days on a hard surface, norovirus (winter vomiting bug), the bane of all parents and cruise liners, can live on hard surfaces for weeks! Bacteria prefer porous surfaces, like your kitchen sponge, with vomit-inducing E. coli and salmonella living on surfaces for a few hours and superbug MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can live for days, even weeks. Dirty homes can be a paradise for much larger pests than bacteria, such as ants, moths, flies, weevils (if you have pets) and rodents. Keeping your home clean can discourage these pests along with bacteria and viruses.

We should be cleaning our homes regularly with detergents and disinfectants, not just to make them look clean and tidy but to make them healthier and more hygienic places to live. It’s not just bacteria and viruses that are potential hazards in the home, dust mites and pet hair can be allergens in both children and adults. Keeping your home sterile is an impossible task and can cause its own health problems as your immune system would be completely unprepared for anything that hit it, leading to an increased risk of allergies and autoimmune issues. Trying to sterilise your home can have a negative effect on your mental health as well, spending all your time cleaning and not enough time relaxing, conversely doing the exact opposite can also have a negative effect on your mental health leaving you prone to depression. 

How often should I clean my home?

It varies, some things should be wiped down daily, some things once a week, some things should be done every six months. 

Our cleaning schedule recommendations:

If it looks dirty: Clean it.

Laundry: Every other day or whenever you have a full load.

Daily: Wipe down toilet seat with a soapy cloth or sanitised wipe, dishes, wipe down kitchen counters, tidy away kids’ toys

Twice a week: Dust lampshades, hand towels

Weekly: Wash bedding 40-60°C, toilet bowl, makeup brushes, hairbrushes, keyboard, toaster, mirrors, microwave (if used), wash kitchen sponges 40-60°C, dust surfaces, mop hard floors, vacuum carpets.

Every fortnight: Vacuum mattress, bath towels (leave to dry after each use)

Monthly: Washing Machine, dishwasher, dust blinds, clean out the vacuum cleaner

Three months: Curtains, lampshades, windows

Six Months: Oven, fridge

Annual: Gutters (best-done pre-winter), deep clean carpets.

What’s the best way to clean?

There are hundreds of cleaning products that all advertise themselves as the ‘World’s number 1’. There are cleaners formulated for every area of the house. The choice is yours. We are raised associating certain scents with ‘cleanliness’, lemon for example or pine. Truth is, these scents are added to the cleaners to make us associate them with hygiene. Citric acid, from lemon juice, was originally used to bring the shine back to copper pans and lemon oil made its way into earlywood polish, as time went on and detergents and cleaners became commercially available the scent was added to help us link the new product with the idea of ‘cleaning’.

  • Steam is a great way to clean as most viruses and bacteria cannot tolerate high temperatures, it denatures the protein shell they hide in, leaving the insides to quickly die under the suns UV rays.
  • Lint rollers can remove dust and pet hair from large areas quickly.
  • Disinfectants that kill 99.99% of bugs some of the best things to use to clean your home but can contribute to the rise of superbugs that are immune to the disinfectant used (so don’t overuse them).
  • Bleach, that old favourite, is an effective disinfectant as it oxidises molecules in the cells and kills them. Practical and still as effective as it’s ever been. Ensure you read the information on the bottle before you use bleach as it reacts poorly to other household cleaners.
  • Soap, hot water and scrubbing is old fashioned these days but is still a cheap and effective way to clean surfaces. The soap works to pull all unwanted material, like dirt, off the skin so it can be rinsed away. Liquid soaps work just as well as bar soaps and are less messy as well.
  • Soaps, disinfectants, bleach and steam cleaning products are all widely available online and in stores.