Health Alert: Spring cleaning

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) - This week Dr. Mark Povroznik, United Hospital Center’s Chairman of Infection Prevention joined us for our Health Alert segment to talk about Spring cleaning.

Question: When it comes to spring cleaning there may be areas we are missing that can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Explain to us what you mean?

Answer: cleaning and disinfecting are not the same. Cleaning certainly removes dust, debris and to some extent germs from surfaces; however, disinfecting actually destroys germs.

Most of us think of spring cleaning as dusting off the nick nacks, wiping down the trim, cleaning the rugs and curtains.

All of those action steps lead to a cleaner environment and help hasten indoor allergens, but there are areas you may want to actually disinfect. Remember, germs and bacteria can survive for hours, some days and some even months.

Question: When it comes to cleaning, what rooms may need extra attention?
Answer: Certainly the kitchen and bathroom are high on the list.

In the kitchen, make it an ongoing habit to clean and disinfect counters and other surfaces before, during, and after preparing food (especially meat and poultry).

Pay special attention to the refrigerator shelf: Foods such as raw meat and spilled milk, combined with cold temperatures, create a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.

When cleaning surfaces, don’t let germs hang around on cleaning cloths or towels. Use:

- Paper towels that can be thrown away, OR
- Cloth towels that will get washed hot water, OR
- Disposable sanitizing wipes that both clean and disinfect.

Remember sponges need disinfecting also. Sponges are filled with germs and bacteria, and a simple rinsing will not eliminate them completely. Instead, put your sponge in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or run it through the dishwasher. Routinely check your dishwasher to make sure it is running at a high enough temperature to kill bacteria.

Other rooms to think of are spaces designated for pets, litter boxes, etc. Remember that babies and children under 5 are more likely to get diseases from animals

Also, your carpets or rugs, especially if you are accustomed to wearing your shoes into the house.

Question: You mentioned the bathroom as also important to cleaning and disinfection?

Answer: Routinely clean and disinfect all surfaces, faucet handles and sink bowel.

Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting if someone in the house has a stomach illness, a cold, or the flu.

The toothbrush holder: Another spot that is often overlooked.

Toilets are some of the most germ-infected places in your home (next to your smartphone). Clean toilets at least once a week.

Gentlemen, always good to put the toilet seat back down…but for Everyone, put down the lid before flushing. This prevents bacteria and germ-infected water from splashing and landing on other nearby surfaces.

Other good habits to consider this Spring:

Avoid wearing your shoes in your home as our soles are a high bacteria transmission potential.

Web Extra Question: When it comes to Spring Cleaning and Disinfection, what is the difference?

Web Extra Answer: Cleaning often can be accomplished with just water or the addition of vinegar…or a little soap.

Sometimes, you may want to disinfect for an extra level of protection from germs. A deeper level of cleaning where high germ counts can be expected, like kitchens, countertops, refrigerators and bathrooms.

Disinfectants are specifically registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contain ingredients that actually destroy bacteria and other germs.

Check the product label to make sure it says “Disinfectant” and has an EPA registration number. Be sure to follow all directions on the product label, which usually specifies proper dilution and letting the disinfectant stand for a few minutes to assure bacterial killing.