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Germ Warfare: How to Keep Your Kids Healthy

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The Hot Spots Kitchen Sink & Counter

Believe it or not, the kitchen harbors more germs than your bathroom.

Bug-proof plan: Clean all surfaces, including faucet, with a disinfectant. Unlike antibacterial cleaners, disinfectants kill viruses as well as bacteria. Microwave the cleaning sponge for two minutes between each use.

Refrigerator

"The door handle on the fridge is one of the most germ-ridden surfaces in the home," says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor at the University of Arizona.

Bug-proof plan: Wipe the handle daily with a spray disinfectant and give your fridge a thorough cleaning inside and out every three months.

Cutting Boards

Raw meat and produce can leave behind bacteria like E. coli and salmonella on food prep surfaces.

Bug-proof plan: Buy two different colored plastic boards. Use one for meat, the other for fruit and veggies. Wash with dish soap every time you cut something new, and toss the cutting boards in whenever you run the dishwasher.

Towels

"Bacteria can live on damp towels for seven days," says Gerba.

Bug-proof plan: Change hand towels every day. Switch over to paper towels anytime someone in the house is sick. Never share bath towels, and allow them to dry completely before reusing.

Bathroom Sink and Tub

Twenty-six percent of tubs contain staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause minor skin problems or serious illnesses, like pneumonia.

Bug-proof plan: Clean the sink and tub weekly with a bleach-based bath and tile cleaning product. Make sure bathrooms are ventilated so surfaces dry completely between uses.

Toilet

The fecal bacteria in toilets can become airborne when you flush. Handles are contaminated with a variety of germs from dirty hands.

Bug-proof plan: Always close the lid before you flush. Give the inside and outside of the toilet bowl a weekly cleaning with a disinfectant that contains bleach.

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