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Bringing the outdoors in -- cleaning for health

The key to keeping a family healthy starts with keeping a healthy home -- and understanding the difference between a home that is clean and a home that is disinfected is especially important during the hot summer months when foot traffic is at its highest. If yours is like most American households, millions of germs and bacteria are already lurking where you least expect them.

Constance Ramos, designer on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" television series, is teaming up with Lysol(R) germ expert Joe Rubino to educate consumers on the best ways to design and clean the home with healthy living in mind.

"I'm constantly thinking of ways to design a home safely -- not just structurally, but also in terms of what surfaces and fixtures will be easiest to maintain," says Ramos. "Choosing the right materials and accents -- from kitchen countertops and appliances to bathroom tiles and shower curtains -- and using Lysol to clean and disinfect can help protect your family from germs that cause illness."

Constance offers the following advice for designing and maintaining a healthy home:

  • Set the Tone -- Are you casual and comfortable? Modern and sleek? Floral, pastel and pretty? Take your family's style into consideration and agree on a theme before you begin decorating.
  • Build and Maintain Healthy Halls and Walls -- For bathrooms, select tiles that are mildew and bacteria resistant. For kitchens, choose countertops that are non-porous. Porous surfaces tend to trap oil and germs. All of these surfaces should be cleaned at least once a week.
  • Keep It Clean -- According to the Center for Disease Control, some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like tables, doorknobs and desks. Cleaning and disinfecting these "hot spots" regularly are the keys to keeping a healthy home.
  • Furnish With Fun -- Choose furniture and appliances that are easy to clean and maintain. Appliance surfaces should be cleaned once a week. Upholstered couches and chairs should be vacuumed every few weeks.
  • Color Your Home -- Use the color of your furnishings to help you select complementary colors for your walls. Non-toxic paints are your best option since they don't contain harmful chemicals found in common paint thinners.

The common cold is usually caught in the home, and kitchens and bathrooms harbor the most germs. Lysol(R) microbiologist Joe Rubino adds these tips for keeping a healthy home:

  • Wash Your Hands Often -- Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. If you know that someone in your family is sick, wash your hands even more frequently than usual. It is especially important to wash your hands before, during and after you prepare food, before and after you use the bathroom, after handling animals or animal waste and when your hands are dirty.
  • Disinfect Hot Spots -- "Hot spots," or commonly touched areas where viruses and bacteria may linger, need to be disinfected regularly -- especially when you have a large family or guests over, when areas such as counter tops, doorknobs, toilet seats and light switches get more traffic than usual.
  • Know the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting -- Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. Cleaning with soap and water removes dirt and most of the germs. Disinfecting will actually destroy the germs and prevent the spread of these dangerous germs to others. Using Lysol(R) Disinfectant Sprays and Wipes is a convenient way to ensure that your home is both clean and properly disinfected.
  • Handle Food Properly -- Always check food expiration dates, and wrap raw meat, poultry and seafood securely before refrigerating to avoid raw juices from leaking and spoiling other food. Wash fresh produce carefully, as it can harbor E. coli, and cook food at the proper USDA- recommended temperatures. Properly clean food preparation areas like counters and sinks with a disinfecting cleaner, and wash your hands often when handling raw foods.
  • Food-borne and other illnesses are preventable if you follow some common sense steps. These include regular handwashing, proper food handling and preparation, such as cooking meats and poultry thoroughly, and using household cleaners that also disinfect," says Rubino. "With the right cleaning methods and a little germ know-how, everyone can keep a cleaner, healthier home."

For more articles about CONSERVATION & GARDENING

When is a plant a weed?
Saving Topsoil
Controlling Slugs and Snails
California Heritage Gardens
Walk Gently with the Earth
Weather and Temperature are Linked to Landscaping