How To Kill Spreading Germs And Bacteria

Bacteria nd germs are disease-carrying pathogens that thrive in specific danger zones on our bodies and in our homes. Here are ways to fight them.

Two types of microorganisms, or "germs," exist in our environment: good germs (also called "resident flora" or helpful bacteria) and bad germs (technically called "pathogens" or disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites).

Both types of germs reside on practically every surface of our bodies and homes. Good bacteria, which are abundant on our skins and gastrointestinal tracts, keep the bad bacteria from multiplying out of proportion and making us sick.

When we, therefore, attempt to annihilate germs from our lives, we actually only want to get rid of the harmful bacteria that sustain disease-spreading microbes. Fortunately, these pathogens tend to proliferate in specific areas of our bodies and our dwellings, and if we can be diligent enough to focus on sanitizing these "danger zones," we can drastically lower our chances of contracting deadly infections. Here's how.

Wash Your Hands Properly

"Properly" is the word to emphasize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that proper washing of hands is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as colds, diarrhea, and hepatitis.

Here's how to properly wash harmful bacteria and microbes off your hands:

1. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, picking up after a pet, changing a baby, taking out the garbage, coughing and sneezing, and handling raw foods.

2. Wash your hands before cooking, eating, and tending to infants, elders, or the sick whose immune systems are compromised. Wash your hands before putting on contact lenses or applying any type of medication.

3. Use soap and warm water and scrub your hands (especially under the fingernails) up to the wrists, for no less than 15 seconds.

4. Rinse thoroughly and dry well with warm air or clean towels.

Disinfect the Kitchen

The kitchen is considered a danger zone and haven of harmful bacteria primarily because this is where we handle raw foods and stow leftovers and food scraps. Aside from the germs that thrive on decaying foodstuff, disease-carrying bacteria can spread in the kitchen from raw meats and fresh produce that come from contaminated facilities and processing.

According to the CDC, an estimated 76 million cases of food-borne disease occur each year in the United States, passed around through cross-contamination of infected meats, produce, and food processing handlers.

Here are ways to keep your kitchen safe from disease-spreading bacteria, viruses, and parasites:

1. Minimize handling raw meats -- too much handling introduces bacteria into the raw food and spreads germs around the kitchen. Store in their original packaging whenever possible.

2. Refrigerate or freeze foods immediately to render bacterial growth in "suspended animation." Microbes multiply rapidly in warm and moist conditions; so, lightly contaminated food can become highly contaminated the following day if left at room temperature overnight. Refrigerate leftovers that will not be consumed within the next four hours.

3. If eating fruits and vegetables raw, rinse and scrub them carefully to remove dirt and harmful bacteria that may have come from unsanitary harvesting, packing, and shipping conditions. Refrain from leaving cut produce at room temperature for extended periods of time.

4. Intense heat kills harmful microbes, so, cook meat, poultry, and seafood thoroughly. Never let juices from raw foods touch ready-to-eat food, especially during the cooking process. When thawing meats in the refrigerator, keep them in containers that will prevent contamination of other refrigerated items.

5. Prevent cross-contamination -- designate cutting boards, knives, and utensils for use with raw foods, and be sure to wash them thoroughly with a disinfectant after use. Remember to wash your hands, too.

6. Disinfect kitchen sponges, dishcloths, and hand towels. Include sponges in the dishwasher; bleach dishcloths and kitchen towels with the laundry. Use paper towels to help wipe off germ-infested surfaces. Follow up with a disinfectant detergent or cleaner.

7. Thoroughly wash and disinfect the sink, countertops, and surrounding areas especially after preparing raw meats, poultry, and seafood.

8. Spray your trashcans and pet areas with disinfectants regularly.

Disinfect Your Laundry

Research revealed that harmful germs flourish in hampers and washing machines, and unwashed undergarments are one of their favorite hangouts. Therefore, proper clothes washing routines are important in keeping disease-carrying bacteria from wreaking havoc from the laundry pile.

Here are laundry suggestions to take seriously:

1. Wash clothes with the hottest setting whenever possible.

2. Wash bath, face, hand, and dish towels separately from regular clothes. Use hot water and bleach or bleach alternatives (usually hydrogen peroxide, a gentler substitute to chlorine bleach).

3. Wash underwear last, and use bleach or disinfectant detergents. You can further disinfect the washer afterwards by running a bleach cycle without clothes.

4. Dry clothes completely with the warmest setting possible.

A Final Word

Bad germs can hardly be seen, smelled, or tasted, but they are all around us, waiting to multiply in numbers large enough to trigger a cold, a diarrhea infection, or even an outbreak. By ensuring that these harmful microbes are kept in check, we minimize the potential health hazards they pose to ourselves and our family members.

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