Maintaining hygiene is important. Corona or no Corona!
The novel coronavirus outbreak and the resulting COVID-19 pandemic has made people around the world pay attention to everyday hygiene practices. Now that we're looking at everything and everyone as a suspect carrier of the dreaded viruses, an insane amount of sanitizers, alcohol or bleach-based disinfectants are being used to scrub different objects clean. A lot of these practices that we're following religiously today - repeated, rigorous hand-washing, for instance - are timeless defences against infections that medical practitioners have advocated for years.
Small careless acts like not washing hands after handling pets, touching one's face while preparing food, not stepping away to sneeze or cough while preparing food can make us more vulnerable to a host of infections, not just the novel coronavirus.
Gastrointestinal infections, salmonella infection, influenza, and the common cold are just a few of the many health hazards we can avoid in the future if we adhere to good hygiene practices, even after the sweeping tide of corona has abated.
A little amount of soap is our best defence against the coronavirus. The soap and water solution helps break down the connection between the components such as proteins and lipids that make up a virus or bacteria structure, rendering them incapable of attaching to our cells and spreading infections. Alcohol-based sanitizers work in a similar fashion.
The important thing here is to ensure that you wash your hands long enough - for about 20 secs - each time and cover the entire surface, especially tricky spots such as between the finger and under the nails, to make sure the viruses have no place to hide. Otherwise, the whole purpose of the exercise is defeated. The same principle applies to all other viruses and bacterias that we come in contact with.
With so many food items, dishes, sponges, dishcloths, kitchens can be a hotbed of sneaky microbes waiting to lodge inside your body. Here are some hygiene practices you must follow at all times to reduce the risk of infections in your household
- Disinfect the raw produce by dipping it in a solution of warm water and baking soda for about an hour.
- Avoid cross-contamination by ensuring you don't use the same, unwashed board for chopping raw meat and vegetables.
- Use a mix of warm water and dishwashing soap, followed by thorough rinsing, to clean the dishes in the true sense.
- Use hypochlorite disinfectants-commonly known as bleach-for washing dishcloths and sponges. And wash these every day.
- Make sure the vegetable and meat you consume are well-cooked.
Another place swarming with germs, bacteria and viruses is your bathroom. Areas such as the bottom of the sink bowl or recesses of the toilet seat rim are often hard to access and become a hotspot for contamination. Here are some domestic cleaning practices to keep in mind:
- Soap and water are ineffective in getting rid of the microbes hiding in those tricky spots in your bathrooms.
- Chlorine- and beach-based cleaner does the job more effectively.
- Toilet seats and washbasin should be cleaned with your regularly acid-based cleaner every day and then disinfected with a chlorine and bleach solution.
- Avoid splashing water around when cleaning the bathroom, as it increases the risk of contaminants being transferred around.
- Make sure every member in the household cleans after themselves after using the bathroom/toilet.
- Don't forget to wash hands afterwards.
Yes, that pile of unwashed clothes building up in the laundry basket can also be a host for microbes to thrive. Here's what you can do to mitigate this risk of contamination in your home:
- Wash your clothes as regularly as you can, preferably every day, as the accumulation of sweat and grime in dirty clothes can facilitate microbe build-up.
- Washing clothes in warm water is effective in reducing contamination level.
- Separate your clothes as per texture or use, and not just colour, to avoid cross-contamination. For instance, washing cotton and wool together can cause the fibres of these fabrics to inter-mix, increasing the risk of contamination. Similarly, washing workout clothes or underwear and socks with the rest of the load can spread microbes to even those clothes that were not as soiled.
- Unless the care instructions specify otherwise, add disinfectant to your mix of detergent and water.
- Give your clothes some sunlight exposure. It acts as a natural disinfectant.
These little practices may seem like an additional burden, especially now that we're all working at and from home, but they can go a long way in preventing those nasty bouts of illnesses.