Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Being Germ Aware without Being a Germaphobe

I think it's easy to become a germaphobe these days, don't you?  With the bird flu and swine flu and all other kinds of weird non-animal named diseases floating around it's no wonder we all aren't contagious with something!

I can see myself being a germaphobe. I have some clean freak tendencies and OCD type quirks about me (I know, you are shocked, aren't you?). But there are ways to be aware of the germs around us and teach our kids healthy habits without going overboard.

Here are my tips:

Stop using antibacterial soaps. I know you think we should be doing the opposite considering the nastiness that is out there, but some germs are good for us. When we cut out all bacteria, we are not giving our bodies a chance to learn how to fight it off. Also, it can lead to creating those super bugs we hear about in the news! If you've ever noticed, an antibacterial laden home is often the sickliest home.

Stick to regular soap! Using a simple non-fancy soap will clean your hands well enough. Just remember to wash thoroughly and for more than 20 seconds.

Use less antibacterial hand sanitizers. For the same reasons I mentioned above with the soap, antibacterial hand gels are not always necessary to use.  Now I've been known to squirt some on our hands after we've been at the store and won't be getting to a sink for awhile. Especially if it's a second-hand store or the children's museum where every child on the planet with a snotty nose has touched everything my child touched. Antibacterial hand wipes and gels do come in handy, but again, being exposed to some germs (yes! even in public!) is ok!


Teach your kids about hand washing. Now, with all that said, I will also say this: I have always taught my kids about washing their hands. After the bathroom, after school, when we get home from the store, before they eat anything. These are general good hygiene lessons that we all need to stick by. And yes, during flu season, wash a little more often. Like when you cough and blow your nose. That is not being obsessive. That is being clean. I have also told my kids that when they are told to clean their hands before lunch (most schools do a hand sanitizer line) to ask to go to the bathroom and just use soap and water when possible. Hand sanitizers do not take off dirt and dried up glue or boogers.

Step away from the bleach. You do not need to use bleach to clean your house! I mean, sure, if someone has the stomach flu and has barfed all over your kitchen floor you may want to get some bleach on that, but everyday cleaning does not need to be so harsh! Simple ingredients like baking soda and vinegar go a long way in cleaning your home. Or just buy some cleaner at the store, but try to stay away with cleaners using harsh chemicals and bleach. You just don't need it! Check out this site which lists some easy to make homemade cleaners.

So there ya have it. What are your stay healthy but not act like a crazy person germ tips?

PS - Sorry for using the words barf and boogers in the same post. I have boys.

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