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5 tips to keep your family healthy and your house clean this school year

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Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Sat Sep 20, 2014.

(BPT) - You and your family are probably adjusting to the hustle and bustle of another school year. Your family’s mornings have returned to the more familiar, hectic pace.

Keeping your kids healthy allows them to take full advantage of the opportunities they will encounter, such as the first day of school, the first slumber party - even the first soccer tournament or piano recital.

So how do you ward off illness? You can’t control what your child is exposed to at school or away from home, but you can control your home’s cleanliness. Keep your house clean and improve your children’s chances of staying healthy with these easy tips.

1. Wash your hands. Surely you heard this from your own mother over and over again as you were growing up. But this classic tip is as relevant today as it was back then. Did you know that washing your hands can reduce your risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? We place our hands in bacteria-filled areas every day - especially as children - and when we then touch our faces, the risk of spreading bacteria increases. Washing your hands for just 20 seconds dramatically reduces this risk, and making hand sanitizer available is also a great way to ward off bacteria.

2. Disinfect your home. Washing your hands is a great way to prevent harmful bacteria from making your children sick, but you can take a more proactive approach by applying a disinfectant to commonly used surfaces in your home. Most people think cleaning products immediately kill germs, but they take time to successfully sanitize a space. Zep Commercial Quick Clean Disinfectant is a professional-strength, all-purpose home-cleaning product that kills 99.9 percent of bacteria in only five seconds, including Staph (Staphylococcus aureus) and pneumonia (Klebsiella). It also destroys most viruses in 30 seconds to two minutes. Other antibacterial cleaners take up to 10 minutes to work.

3. Target common areas. Most likely you don’t have the time to clean your home as often as you’d like. So how can you maximize your time and reduce your family’s risk of getting sick? Target common surfaces and make them the focus of your cleaning and sanitizing efforts. While all surfaces have bacteria, cleaning efforts should focus on commonly used items, including remote controls, door knobs and kitchen counters. Dirty sponges, meanwhile, can make a bacteria breeding ground worse, cross-contaminating your countertops when you think you are cleaning. Ditch the dirty sponge and use paper towels and disinfectant for a quick, efficient solution.

4. Leave your shoes at the door. Merely taking your shoes off at the door can reduce your exposure to allergens, toxins, pesticides and dust, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It also keeps floors cleaner and reduces the wear and tear on carpets or rugs. The professional cleaning industry estimates that 85 percent of all dirt tracked into homes comes in on our shoes and the feet of our pets.

5. Sneeze appropriately. Teaching your child the proper way to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze is a simple, effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Medical experts say coughing or sneezing into a tissue or towel is preferred, while using the crux of your elbow is the second choice. Coughing or sneezing into a person’s hands should be a last resort, and children who do should wash their hands immediately afterwards. This will prevent germs and bacteria from spreading to door knobs and other surfaces the child touches.

A new school year means many months on the go, as well as your children’s increased exposure to colds and flu. While you can’t be with your kids every moment of every day, products like Zep Commercial Quick Clean Disinfectant can help you make sure that the home they come back to each night is as clean as possible.

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