ow you doin’? If you’re like me, you’re not going out much these days, but occasionally field trips are necessary. No one wants to bring any nasty germs into your home and possibly infecting yourself or those you care about. I ran across this excellent list of things you should due as soon as you return home and wanted to share it with you. Thanks to Ashley Abramson and the folks at Apartment Therapy where I saw it posted.
Keep in mind... first, if you’re carrying Covid-19 virus but don’t have symptoms yet, you could spread it to other vulnerable people. Secondly, you’re exposing yourself to other people’s nasty germs. If you’re not vigilant when coming back home from your field trips, you or your loved ones might be inadvertently infected.
Fortunately, with a little strategy (and lots of hand washing and disinfecting), you can reduce the likelihood of transferring viruses and bacteria into your home. Here are five expert-backed steps to follow every time you walk in your door.
1. Sanitize your hands before entering the house.
Anytime you’re outside your home, be mindful of the germs on your hands. Avoid touching your face until you can wash them, and if possible, keep hand sanitizer with you so you don’t leave potentially harmful pathogens on your car’s steering wheel or a doorknob going into your home. Dr. Elizabeth Scott, professor of microbiology at Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons University in Boston, says she always tries to keep hand sanitizer with her. When she’s out and about, she uses it in two scenarios. “If I am out in my car, I sanitize my hands as soon as I get back into the car following essential trips to the store,” she says. “Or, If I am just walking back into the house, I sanitize my hands before I enter.”
2. Put your haul on the floor and hang up your bag and keys.
Grocery store hauls require a whole other level of vigilance. Since germs can live on surfaces like bags for several hours, don’t put your groceries on the counter unless you plan to disinfect thoroughly immediately after. Same goes for the just-delivered packages you might normally put on the kitchen table.
After she sanitizes her hands and gets in the house, Dr. Scott says she puts her bags on the floor until she deals with the next couple of germ-fighting steps. While you’re at it, you can hang your purse or bag on a hook with your keys or put them wherever you normally do, as long as you’re not cross-contaminating high-contact areas like your counter or dining room table.
3. Take off dirty shoes and clothes.
No matter where you ventured to, your shoes and clothes are also potential germ-carriers. Scott always takes her shoes and jacket off when she gets home and quarantines them to their own, designated area). If you want to be extra careful, you can change into a fresh set of clothes, too. Just make sure you put your soiled clothes directly in the hamper or wash clothes right away.
4. Wash your hands thoroughly, then unpack your things.
Now that your dirty clothes are off your body, it’s time to remove the germs from your hands so you don’t transfer them to all the surfaces you’re about to touch in your home. After you’ve washed your hands, you can put away groceries or open the mail. If you just went outside for a walk and you’re sure your hands are clean, then Scott says you’re free to relax!
5. Disinfect if needed or wash your hands again.
For grocery-buyers, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly again after you touch all the food you put away. If you accidentally set potentially germ-ridden items on your counter, or potentially contaminated your doorknob or cabinet handles, practice targeted hygiene and disinfect those surfaces immediately with a bleach or alcohol-based cleaner. But Dr. Scott recommends laying off the hand sanitizer once you’re inside the house, since supply is limited and you’ll need it when you go out again. Plus, soap and water are more effective for your hands when you have access to it.
*This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy; by Ashley Abramson
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