You may have heard that a little bit of exposure to germs is not necessarily a bad thing. This is true, as some germs are either not harmful at all or simply allow our bodies to build up a better immunity. However, while some germ exposure may beneficial, you don’t want your child to be exposed to the dangerous germs that can cause serious illness. If you’re worried about germs then we have some tips for beating them on five of the most common battle fronts:
Floors are generally dirty. They collect dirt from shoes as well as plenty of other sources. So while you may think that the ‘five second rule’ applies, it doesn’t. The best advice here is to consider the floor you’re talking about. If you know your floors at home are clean (and more importantly dry) then it’s probably okay for your child to eat something that has fallen on it. When you’re out, however, and particularly if the floor is damp or moist, it could be breeding any number of bacteria from E.Coli to everything else, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Another common cause for concern for mums and dads are the handles of shopping trolleys. However, while it’s true that they can be contaminated with germs, they’re usually not the dangerous kind and they’re the same germs that you pick up from restaurant seating, public door handles and other items. Rather than obsessing about wiping the handles of your shopping trolley, pay attention to what gets on your hands while you shop. The juices from raw meat and chicken can be particularly dangerous and fish is another potential breeding ground for bacteria. Carry wipes with you and clean your hands if you suspect it’s gotten onto your hands.
If you’re worried about your hands being dirty, then hand sanitizer gels are a good idea. Make sure that you use them correctly, getting them under your nails and into creases and crevices, and make sure that the product you buy has a high (60% or more) alcohol, ethanol or isopropanol content. That’s what kills the germs. Only use these products when there’s no hand washing facilities around though, as they can dry out your skin causing cracks that make you more susceptible to infection.
Public toilets are another source of worry for most parents. The trouble is, they tend to worry about the wrong things. Toilet seats themselves are unlikely to harbour any dangerous germs and they’re unlikely to reach your child’s nose, mouth or eyes from all the way down there. What’s more worrying than where your child’s bum goes is where his or her hands go. Your child’s hands can pick up any number of dangerous germs in public bathrooms and it’s essential that you make sure your child washes his or her hands carefully and thoroughly after visiting one. Soap and water, and at least 20 seconds of washing are a must, even when your child uses the bathroom at home.
Finally, there’s the issue of cleaning products. Many parents stock up on every kind of antibacterial cleaner they can find but the harsh chemicals may be worse for you than anything else, and in some places, they are excessive. As a rule of thumb, soap and water are fine for anything you can wash in the sink and you need an antibacterial cleaner for surfaces that are likely to attract lots of germs – counters, bathrooms and so on. You don’t have to spend a fortune though. Ordinary bleach mixed with water does the job as well as expensive products, and when it comes to antibacterial soaps, it’s been proven that they are no more effective than regular soap and they may make bacteria more resistant to antibiotics.