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Hygiene habits for clean, germ-free home

Here are simple steps to take to keep bacteria and viruses at bay

With the authorities designating the status of the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore as orange, and more people working from and staying home, it is more important than ever to be vigilant when it comes to home hygiene.

Here are seven tips on stepping up your cleaning routine.

1. Wipe down your tech

Did you know that the average mobile phone has more germs on it than a toilet seat?

That is because our hands are on it almost constantly, whether it is after you have opened a door, eaten a meal or held on to a rail on public transport.

The oils left by our skin can help bacteria thrive. Make it a habit to wipe down all your tech - including mobile phones and keyboards - on a daily basis, and avoid lending it to others during this period, because viruses can be spread if a sick person coughs or sneezes while using it.

2. Switch on the air purifier

Air purifiers, usually taken out of storage during haze season in Singapore, can come in handy during this time too.

Most of them filter large particles such as dust mites and pollen, which helps to reduce the chances of breathing in irritants that can cause coughs.

If yours has an Hepa (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, it can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns, which includes many bacteria and some viruses.

There are some purifiers that can do more, like the Biotica 800, an air purifier that releases probiotics into the air and onto the surfaces of your home, covering an area of up to 80 sq m. The probiotics (which are good bacteria) can help to fight off the bad bacteria and viruses.

3. Wash your hands frequently - and well

To cultivate this habit, consider putting up a chart above the washbasin that details the steps of hand-washing. Use an automatic soap dispenser to minimise contact with dirty hands.

4. Clean more frequently, especially in high-traffic areas of the home

Germs can get trekked in from outside, especially if you have family members who regularly come home and spend some time without changing their clothes or showering. The same goes for when friends and relatives visit.

Make sure your home is not only vacuumed regularly, but also mopped down and wiped - do not forget the door knobs - with a solution of warm water and white vinegar (half a cup for every three to four litres of water). The acetic acid in white vinegar kills bacteria and viruses.

5. Use heat to sanitise fabrics

Get your sofa, carpets and car steam-cleaned - especially if they have seen plenty of traffic from the festive season. The steaming helps deodorise and sanitise these surfaces without having to use chemicals.

Similarly, if you have hand or kitchen towels that are used frequently by several people, do a very hot wash for them (60 deg C and above) at least once a week to get rid of microbes that thrive on damp surfaces. Check the laundry care instructions first before doing so.

6. Bags, shoes and laundry should be 'quarantined'

As items that are exposed to the public - and that can be coughed or sneezed on - bags, shoes and the clothes you wear outside should be cleaned regularly and stored properly, especially if you have little ones who like to grab things and put them in their mouth.

Designate a cupboard to store all bags near the entryway, and make it a point to put away shoes and dirty laundry in their respective places as soon as possible.

7. Go green with wipes

When buying antibacterial wipes, look out for the materials used.

Some are made of polyester and can take hundreds of years to decompose and cause severe clogging and pollution.

Instead, opt for something compostable, like Method wipes that are made out of wood-based fibres. Or use hand sanitisers instead of wipes.

This article was first published in Home & Decor Singapore (www.homeanddecor.com.sg)