(BPT) - Before you know it, the chilly weather will be here and so will the dreaded cold and flu season. While even the most avid germaphobes can't control every germ from reaching their family, you can take extra precautions to keep a healthy home this year. Follow these expert tips to get rid of germs - once and for all.
According to the National Sanitation Foundation, more than 20 percent of foodborne illnesses come from mistakes in the kitchen. The bacteria that could be in the raw chicken you're cutting up for tonight's casserole can instantly spread once you wipe your hands on the dish towel. So here's how to stay vigilant:
* Stop sponges from spreading bacteria that you just cleaned up. Replace sponges regularly and wash them thoroughly with soap after using. You can also kill harmful bacteria by tossing a damp sponge in the dishwasher or by zapping it in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds.
* Wipe down countertops, faucets, refrigerator and oven handles, cabinet knobs, light switches and the telephone regularly with soapy water or disinfectant wipes.
* To control the spread of bacteria in and around the kitchen sink, a hands-free faucet, like the Moen Haysfield pulldown kitchen faucet with MotionSense technology, will make a significant difference by limiting the number of surfaces you'll have to touch, especially while cooking. Simply wave your hand over the ready sensor or place your hands below the spout to start the flow of water. Bacteria are instantly washed away - rather than lingering on the faucet handle.
* Often overlooked, the ice dispenser is a proven area of concern for yeast and mold, which are a problem for those with allergies. To properly clean, turn the icemaker off, empty the ice and wash the bin with mild dish soap and warm water.
Hot and humid areas like bathrooms are breeding grounds for bacteria. In fact, even small surfaces like the bathroom faucet handle can be home to 6,267 bacteria per square inch, according to WebMD. Keep the bathroom cleaner by taking the following steps:
* Before mold takes hold, launch an attack on shower gunk by cleaning tiles, shower curtains and doors with an all-natural cleanser; not bleach which can eat away at grout. For extra cleaning power, heat diluted vinegar in a bowl and pour into a spray bottle. To prevent mildew and mold build-up in the shower, leave the shower doors open when not in use.
* Keep surfaces clean and disinfected to reduce the spread of stain- and odor-causing bacteria. Did you know, on an unprotected surface, bacteria can double in number every 20 minutes? Luckily, the new Moen Ashville two-handle bathroom faucet featuring Microban antimicrobial protection will help guard against stain- and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. Microban technology is built into the faucet finish, so it works continuously, even between cleanings.
It's also important to tackle the rest of the house with the same consciousness. Here are a few tips that will keep harmful germs and allergens from spreading room to room:
* Clean your cleaners. You may clean out the dust container routinely, but when was the last time you cleaned the vacuum upholstery tool or brush roll? Rather than sucking up allergens, these attachments could be spreading them throughout your home.
* The washing machine is actually swarming with bacteria that can find their way onto your clothes - and eventually you. Kitchen towels and undergarments are the biggest culprits and can harbor bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, which detergent doesn't kill. To prevent harmful germs from spreading, combine these items together and wash with hot water and non-chlorine bleach. Take extra precaution by cleaning the washer out with a disinfecting wipe after washing a load in hot water.
* A dusty ceiling fan can send dust mites scattering to bedding and furniture, contributing to allergies and sinus infections. Ceiling-fan dusters are a quick and easy way to get this job done. This should be done every other month if you use the fan year-round.
This season channel your inner germaphobe and take a few extra steps to prepare your home to fight off bacteria.
For more information about Moen products, visit moen.com or call 800-BUY-MOEN.