Healthy Home Hacks is a series where I show you how to create a healthier space for your family, using tech.
I’ll give you the bad news first: You share your home with thousands of germs, and they love to hang out not just in the bathroom but in other places you’d like to be more sanitary, like in your kitchen sink and in your bed.
I know, you’re probably itching to take a shower now, but there’s also the good news: Most of those little bugs are harmless, and if you have a generally healthy immune system, even the bad ones won’t hurt you the majority of the time.
Still, we all get sick once in a while from an encounter with bacteria or a virus, so protecting yourself and your family from pathogens as much as possible is a good idea, not just when you’re out in public, but at home too. .
The best way to do that? Don’t wait until cleaning day.
Technology now allows you to turn your home into a germ-fighting zone all of the time, even when you’re not actively scrubbing. Start with these smart hacks, below.
Touch the toilet less often
Sink handles may generally be contaminated with way more germs than a toilet seat, but your hands, after using the toilet, are dirty. It stands to reason that the less you have to touch things while using the bathroom, the cleaner things will be. There are now lots of touch-free toilets you can install at home if you’re renovating (see Kohler’s futuristic Numi toilet above— you can open and close it with Amazon Alexa!), but there are more budget-conscious DIY projects too: Touch-free toilet seats can fit on your current toilet, touch-Free Flush kits install inside your current toilet and let you wave your hand to flush, and an automatic toilet cleaning system, so at least you don’t have to touch it when you clean.
Humidify Your Home
Got dry air? Research has shown humidifiers can help create an environment in which it’s harder for flu viruses to survive. There’s also evidence that suggests if your family’s nasal passages and throats are properly moistened (sorry), that helps your sinuses resist bacteria and viruses. So it may not get them out your house, but it can shore up the defenses of everyone in the house.
PS. I never travel without this little guy now: He helps me stay healthy while I’m on the road.
Help your bed banish germs
Okay, this is important: Using products with antibacterial chemicals built into them will do more harm than good in your home. For instance, I was intrigued by the idea of an antimicrobial countertop, since countertops and sponges are often the dirtiest surface in a home, but some contain triclosan, a chemical that is linked to multiple health hazards. Back to the drawing board.
Products that are naturally antimicrobial, on the other hand, are a total win. My fave so far? Silvon makes antibacterial sheets that eliminate 99.9 percent of bacteria via silver threads woven into the fabric. So you can sleep soundly without dreaming of the microbes cuddling up next to you.
WHen it comes to germs on your mattress however, you gotta just suck it up: This anti-dust mite cleaner combines light and great suction to lift stuff off your mattress, curtains and any other soft surface, as well as zap it with bacteria-and-allergen-killing UV light.