What germaphobes can teach you about avoiding COVID-19.
People are finally sanitizing their phones, avoiding physical contact, washing their hands. But is that and social distancing enough? What are other ways those nasty contaminated droplets might make it into your home and your body? If there was ever a good time to be a germaphobe, it would be now. Here are 13 things you probably didn’t think of cleaning, that only germaphobes would.
You’re in line at the grocery store and the person behind you coughs. If you don’t wash your hair when you get home, then these bugs are going straight to your pillow, where you can breathe them all in! Wash your hair every time you go out. Even with social distancing, if you lean your head against an infected surface, you could pick something up. Some people might tell you that washing your hair every day is not a good idea. I’ve been doing it for 30 years and my hair is just fine.
Your sunglasses, hats, and anything that you use on your face/head.
It’s not just your hands that shouldn’t touch your face. Basically anything that touches your face should be cleaned before it touches your face if possible. Sunglasses, regular glasses, hats, make-up brushes, eyelash extensions, you get the idea.
Your door handles, fridge door, cabinetry hardware, window latches, etc.
Many people already know better than to touch the door handles of public bathrooms but what about your own home? When was the last time you sanitized your own door handle? And when was the last time you touched your shoes before touching that same door handle? Yup. That’s what I thought.
Your washing machine door, buttons/screens.
It’s also inevitable that the dirty clothes touch the outer borders of the machine as they’re being put in. Once they’re in, you probably press buttons to turn the machine on with your dirty hands. If your clothes have been contaminated, it’s possible some of those germs are now on your machine door/rim/buttons, in addition to your hands. Make sure to wash your hands after putting a load in, and sanitize the machine door/rim/buttons occasionally.
Unless you’re a germaphobe, you probably come home and sit on your sofa without even thinking about it. Think about all the places you’ve sat on in your outside clothes. Infected people may have sat in the same seat, then you picked it up on your clothes, brought it to your car, and now your couch. If changing out of your “outside clothes” is too much work for you, you might at least consider wiping down your couch with disinfecting wipes regularly.
If you want to come over to the dark side, our protocol is to change out of outside clothes and take a full shower as soon as we get home. We only ever sit on our furniture with clean clothes.
Your sanitizer bottle.
Yes, you’ve been good about sanitizing your hands, but you should probably clean that sanitizer bottle too because, you know, you only ever reach for it when your hands are filthy!
Your laptop, charger, car keys, things from work & school.
If you bring your work computer & accessories home from the office, it might be a good idea to clean them. There’s always that colleague who insists on coming to work sick, or that other colleague who is perfectly fine but is a carrier because his kids caught a nasty bug at school. And those desks you use, how often are they sanitized? How do you know it wasn’t wiped with the same cloth that was used to wipe the bathroom sinks?
Sanitize your laptop and charger before putting in on your kitchen table or your bed at home.
The same applies to anything your kids bring to school and back. If you can’t fathom sanitizing their books and other stationery, you want to at least make them wash their hands after using their school stuff, before eating, and before going to bed.
Car keys and wallets are generally dirty in my opinion. We leave them on a small console table in the entry way and never put them on the dining table. If we do bring them into the office, we’ll clean the desk after returning them to their rightful place.
Bottles & canned goods.
I always wash cans before opening them because you never know what rodents might have been on it. These cans sit on factory/warehouse floors and dirty shelves before making it to your house. Same with bottles of wine, juice, and other packaged stuff you put in your fridge. There’s plenty of room in the supply chain for less than ideal conditions. You don’t want any trace of rat poop in your pantry or fridge, do you? Plus, think of all those customers who passed through this aisle coughing all over these products before you picked them up.
Groceries & fridge.
We don’t always do this, but right now, we are pre-washing all our produce, including eggs, before storing. For fragile items like berries and cilantro, they will keep quite well if you wash, let them dry, then wrap them in paper towel or cloth before putting them in the fridge. We’ve also cleaned the fridge, of course.
Hotels, planes, rental cars.
Whenever we go to a hotel, the first thing we do is wipe down the bedside tables, switches, remotes, and anything we need to touch. If there are throw pillows, we clean where those were too. Throw pillows are put on the floor when the room is being cleaned and that is just disgusting. They should be banned.
On planes, we sanitize the seats, belts, buckles, screens, trays, back of the seat in front of us.
Similarly, before sitting in a rental car, we wipe down the seats, steering wheels, and basically anything we’ll be touching.
Luggage, purses, backpacks.
We also wipe down all our luggage, including thoroughly scrubbing the wheels, before storing them in our closet. We wipe the inside too, of course. Same goes for purses/backpacks if they are going to be stored anywhere other than the entryway floor/coat closet.
Shoes & the entryway.
If you don’t already take shoes off when getting into your house, you might want to consider doing so right now. Some are even dedicating a pair of shoes for going outside and leaving that pair of shoes in a designated area by your door to avoid contamination.
If you’re coming back from the airport, the hospital, or other similar breeding grounds for germs, do yourself a favor and sanitize your shoes.
In general, having shoes in the house is pretty gross. Your shoes have been in public bathrooms, or have walked in the same places as other people who have been in public bathrooms. And not just nice bathrooms. Imagine the punk rock dive bar kind and all the bodily fluids/excrement particles on that icky floor. You do not want your toddler to put that in his mouth, or your pet to bring that to your couch, bed, or face.
Don’t let people pet your dog right now. That’s a lot of fur to capture contaminated droplets and bring them to your couch. Also, unfortunately, those paws are just as dirty as your outside shoes after you’ve taken them for their walk a.k.a bathroom break. One germaphobe told me she wipes the dog’s paws then takes it to the shower after every walk. I doubt that many people would go to that extreme, but that is what I would do if I had an indoor dog. That (and allergies) is why I can never have an indoor pet…
Things most people are already doing.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, here are the generally well-known tips to avoid getting infected:
- Wash your hands often, and thoroughly, with soap. Soap & wash for at least 20-30s.
- When you can’t wash, have hand sanitizer with you. Sanitize thoroughly, in between your fingers, your fingertips, etc.
- DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE.
- SANITIZE YOUR PHONE OFTEN.
- Keep your throat moistened by sipping on something warm throughout the day.
- Avoid crowds, crowded places, large gatherings.
- Self-isolate if you have any symptoms or have been in contact with people who have symptoms. Especially if you are or live with elderly or people with weak immune systems.
- Self-isolate if you have been in a place where infection rate is high. Especially if you are or live with elderly or people with weak immune systems.
- Schools, concerts, conferences are being canceled to minimize the spread and avoid a surge of hospitalizations. If your events aren’t being canceled yet, consider not attending. You might save someone’s life.
- Masks will minimize your spreading of your own germs, but will not prevent it entirely. Again, isolation is better if you’re worried about infecting elderly or people with weak immune systems.
- Avoid mass transit and ride sharing.