“If you’ve got kids, get ready to be sick,” says microbiologist Charles Gerba, Ph.D. “You are twice as likely to get a cold or flu once you have kids as before. More kids, more likely.” Dire news–but your fate is not sealed. Here’s three tried-and-true ways to protect against the pestilence.
Parents are already old hands at using baby wipes for everything–swop the bum-friendly brand with the antibacterial version and use it wherever your afflicted brood has been congregating. “Wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant — nightstands, tabletops, even ones you might not think about, like lampshades,” advises Gerba. Cold and flu bugs stick around for several days–so keep wiping even after you’ve heard the last sniffle; for more resilient critters, like stomach viruses, do this for two weeks.
Note: Don’t re-use wipes on multiple surfaces; one wipe per surface–otherwise you’re just helping the viruses spread!
Bathrooms are a hot spot for virulent germs; and kids’ iffy hygiene practices make this even more so. Make sure you don’t share towels for the duration of the sickness–or opt for paper towels until the all-clear. And toss the bar soap. “You never see bar soap in public restrooms,” Gerba notes. “Why? Because they are germ magnets. Public bathrooms use liquid soap, and you should too when your kids are sick.” If you’re especially worried about contracting illness, invest in a hands-free soap dispenser to eschew contact completely…although you’ll have to figure out how to get that right with the tap…
“Go for hot water and high heat in the dryer,” says Gerba. “The high temperatures will kill most cold and flu germs but cold water will do nothing.” In the interests of staying healthy versus being an eco-hero (or martyr), wash all garments, towels, and bedding on hot, and toss everything in the dryer–on high temp, germ-killing setting.