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How to make home time a breath of fresh air for your kids—and stop worrying about germs

Fretting about germs spread around the home by little fingers and runny noses? We give you the germ-busting solutions to let you relax.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Children playing on the bedroom floor

From seasonal sniffles to Covid-19, germs can quickly spread around our homes, living on surfaces and everyday items used by the whole family. But it can be a challenge to protect yourself and your kids from household germs when you don’t know exactly where these microscopic menaces are lurking.

Luckily, our handy guide will explain how to prevent you and your family from being exposed to germs in the home, so you can sit safe knowing your home is a healthy haven. All that’s required is a bit of elbow grease and some forward-planning—plus a little assistance from the kids!

Keep on handwashing

By now, most of us have learned the importance of sanitizing our hands when we’re out and about, but that shouldn’t stop when we’re at home. It’s one of the most effective ways of killing germs and preventing them spread around the house, as we all know that children’s hands can get everywhere! A handwashing station with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap can help encourage your kids to clean their hands and may be easier than sending them to the nearest sink. So, when should your kids wash their hands?

  • When they come indoors.

  • Before each meal.

  • After using the bathroom.

  • After sneezing or coughing.

  • After blowing their nose.

Give dirt the boot

Muddy soccer boots, sneakers, and shoes can all bring in viruses and other germs found in dirt, debris, and soil—which can quickly end up trampled all over your floors and carpets. Vacuuming can’t always lift out embedded dirt from your carpets, so it’s best to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Get your kids into the habit of removing shoes when they come in—and any outer-layers such as coats that might also be dirty. Then move these items to a dedicated area to help reduce the risk of transmitting germs around the home. Something as simple as coat hooks over a shoe rack is an effective solution—it’s all about keeping outdoor things in one place.

Sanitize high-risk items

School uniforms, gym kits, lunch boxes, and school bags can all carry germs in from the outside, meaning you could be welcoming more than your child through the door. Wash uniforms and kits after each wear and scrub lunch containers or drink bottles in a mild disinfectant solution, or put them in the dishwasher if the care instructions allow. Wipe down bags with disinfectant spray or wipes, while the likes of hats and scarves can be hand washed or put on a delicate wash.

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Purify the play zones

Indoor play is an excellent way for kids to have fun and get creative, but all those dens, games and clutter don’t always make for a germ-free environment. Here are a few pointers:

  • Move any mess out the way and think about those high-touch areas, like handles, desks and drawers, giving them a clean with a disinfectant spray or wipe.

  • Whether it’s the bedroom or the playroom, most kids love spending time on the floor, so make sure you vacuum rugs and carpets regularly to avoid your child rolling around in unwanted bacteria. You can also steam-clean filthy areas to help remove any lingering germs.

  • If your children regularly play with plastic toys, you can wipe these down with disinfectant. Wash any soft toys on a hot wash - or if they’re not machine washable, you can throw them in the tumble drier on a high setting for 45 minutes, which will kill any germs.

  • Lastly, throw those windows open to get some fresh air in the room. Open windows can prevent viruses and other germs from spreading, get rid of contaminated air, and circulate clean air around the room.

Deal with large laundry items

While your kid’s bed sheets may not look or smell dirty, they can harbor an array of unwelcome guests including bacteria, plus it’s possible to transmit and contract infections through soiled linens. Washing bedding regularly on a hot wash will eliminate these hidden nasties and help combat the spread of bacteria and viruses. As a general rule, experts suggest we should wash bedding once a week for optimum freshness and hygiene, although if anyone using a bed is unwell, it’s best practice to wash the sheets every couple of nights to get rid of any germs.

And don’t forget the towels. Due to their absorbent nature, towels provide the perfect breeding ground for germs and should ideally be washed every three uses on a hot wash. Germs love the damp, so ask your kids to hang them up to dry after each use. (Good luck with that!)

Disinfect those devices

Whether it’s a phone, tv remote, keyboard, tablet or games console, these innocent-looking items that kids love to fumble can harbor a colony of germs. While regular hand washing will mitigate the spread, it’s best to clean these items frequently, using sanitizing wipes to rid them of any potential viruses, or spray with a disinfectant and wipe clean with a dry cloth.

You could even try leaving packs of wipes in the same room to encourage your child to give the items a clean after each use. You never know, they might get the hint!

Tackle the touch-points

There are many germ hotspots in your home, but a weekly wash down of the areas frequently touched by little hands will help keep bacteria and viruses in check. Just think how many times that fridge door gets swung open by eager mitts, not to mention the snack drawer! Make sure you include light switches, door handles and faucets as part of these touch-point zones.

Things like railings and work surfaces can be cleaned using sanitizing wipes for ease or, depending on their size, use a disinfectant spray and a clean, damp cloth, first checking the product is suitable.

Invest in an air purifier

Alongside doing your best with all the above methods, an air purifier can be a neat addition for helping achieve a healthy home environment—and can further protect yourself and your family from germs around the home without any extra effort required by you. Great!

Air purifiers work to filter and purify the air as it’s circulated around a room, reducing those microscopic indoor pollutants found in stale air and preventing most airborne viruses and bacteria from entering the lungs.

Removing these pollutants from your home gives your family another layer of protection from common viruses, coughs, and colds. It offers assurance that you and your family are breathing in clean, healthy air. What’s not to love?

Just make sure the unit is powerful enough for the size of the room by checking its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and frequency of air exchange.

It’s also a good idea to look out for air purifiers that are part of the American Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) Verifide program, which measures clean air delivery rates at a nicely fresh five exchanges per hour.

Have these tips inspired you to take things to the next level on your mission for a germ-free abode? If you’re looking for a deeper clean for your whole house, how about reading our room-by-room guide to making your home a germ-free haven.

Originally published