When you think of germs, a few common ‘dirty places’ come to the mind – washrooms, toilets, public toilets, dustbins, garbage collecting trucks, and so on. Looking closer to home, you might think of your shoe rack, the attic or storage room, the garage, and other such places. But what if we told you about some unexpected places and objects that are several times dirtier and actually putting your baby at risk for infection?
As parents, you must have baby-proofed your home to the best of your knowledge. You take every possible effort to keep your child clean, safe and away from germs. But they still fall ill so very often! Diarrhoea, stomach infection, skin rashes…we think these are just “babyhood” illnesses. But what if there are some places at home that are actually triggering these infections?
We have compiled for you a list of surprising places that are dirtier than they look! While you might think some of these are ‘safe’ for your baby to get their hands, feet, mouths onto… they really are NOT!
1. Cell Phones
Don’t tell us, but ask yourself: where all do you carry your phone with you? The same phone that you show baby videos and nursery rhymes to your child on? Our cell phones go with us to the office, conference rooms, public washrooms, baby rooms in malls, restaurants, gyms… heck, people even carry their phones into their own bathrooms, when they are going to sit on the pot!
What To Do? First of all, we must STOP carrying your phone everywhere! Second, it’s best to ditch those phone covers – they collect more dust and dirt than the phones themselves. If you absolutely MUST use a cover, make sure you get a new one every month. Finally, clean your phone with a soft clean cloth at least once every day. You can use a cotton bud to get into the crevices.
This one should be a no-brainer, especially after you read the above point. However, this applies to all bags you carry – grocery bags, shopping bags, purses, and yes, your baby bag too. Ladies bags go everywhere with them. In fact, a recent study suggested that they are dirtier than your kitchen sink!
What To Do? – Wash your bags regularly, and by regularly we mean every two weeks. Use different bags to buy different things – one for groceries, one for veggies, and one exclusively for all baby stuff. Use a good detergent to wash the bags. Leave the bags soaked for a while before washing them.
3. Dish Towel / Kitchen Towel
We tend to keep utensils really clean; this comes as an instinct. But how many of us pay attention to the kitchen towel we use to wipe our utensils clean? Not many, we bet! Kitchen towels are one of the most neglected items in the kitchen. But you can’t say that anymore – we’ve warned you!
What To Do? – Wash your kitchen towel every day. We are not kidding, every single day. Change all the kitchen towels every 3 months and buy new ones (and NO, do not recycle them as rags or pochhas!). Use separate towels for your baby’s utensils.
4. TV Remote
TV Remotes get handled and used by everybody who steps into the house – friends, family, relatives, everybody. They are also one of the least cared for gadgets. Most people take extra care while using their phones, iPads, etc. But remotes get handled rather carelessly – while eating, working in the kitchen, cleaning the house, etc.
What To Do? – Wipe these innocent-looking gadgets clean with a clean cloth every day. You can even use a mild cleanser to wipe them clean (of course, be careful not to damage the remote).
5. Stove Knobs
All that high-flame, heat, oil and grease, curry and gravy that keeps spilling in the kitchen is bound to get deposited on the stove knobs – another neglected place. This one is particularly bad as we touch the knob in order to turn the stove on to cook. Our hands directly touch utensils and food after touching the knob… eeeew!
What To Do? – Clean your stove, and especially the stove knob, at least every couple of days. Be careful and make sure you turn the gas-cylinder off while cleaning your stove.
6. Curtains and Drapes
We remember to wash bedsheets, bed covers, pillow covers, and bath towels regularly. But when was the last time you washed your curtains? A long, long time ago, isn’t it? Curtains tend to act like filters – they trap most of the dust and germs coming in from your window. This also makes them a hot spot for germs though, and even mosquitoes.
What To Do? – Pick curtains that are easy to wash and light in colour. We tend to pick darker curtains because they don’t soil easy, whereas the truth is – we are just not able to see all the dirt that they collect. Lighter the curtain, easier will it be to understand how much dirt it has caught.
7. Computer Keyboard
Much like TV remotes, computer keyboards (and mouses, for that matter) are used without much care. The toughest part are the crevices between the keys where everything collects – from dirt to food particles (come on, you munch on something when you are at the keyboard, don’t you?), and scores of other things.
What To Do? – Overturn the keyboard and tap it lightly on the table surface to dislodge particles caught between the keys. You can use old sticky-notes or post-its, and a soft brush to get these particles. While buying a keyboard, try and pick one which is designed such that it won’t catch much dirt.
And outside the house you have…
8. Car Dashboard
The interiors of your car get just about as dirty as the exteriors… perhaps even more. We go to places, collect all the germs, and come back and sit in our cars. And the first place we dump the things we are carrying is in the backseat and on the dashboard – those dirty handbags, that precious cell phone, that shopping bag with diapers for your baby.
What To Do? – Every time you wash your car, make sure you clean the interiors too. Use a good vacuum cleaner to get to the corners. You can even use a wet cloth and a mild cleanser to wipe the dashboard, door handles, and general interiors on a more regular basis.
9. Menu Cards
Did you know that a recent study suggested that menu cards are close to 100 times dirtier than restaurant toilets/washroom? Life has evolved such that most families dine out at least once every fifteen days. You never know who touched that card before you – or the ketchup bottle, or the salt and pepper shaker, or the saunf plate/bowl.
What To Do? – Always, always use a hand sanitizer before actually eating the food you’ve ordered. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with a good antiseptic handwash after you get home. And never let your baby touch any of the things on the table. Make sure you give your baby a good and thorough wipe too.
While these are really unexpected places that are full of germs, do not lose your mind over germ-proofing your house/surroundings! Basic common sense, awareness, and a good degree of hygiene will help you keep most germs at bay. Nonetheless, be a little extra careful about the above places and things. Wish you and your baby the pinkest of health!