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It's not possible, or even desirable, to rid the home of all germs and other microbes. But there are some germs found in the home that we need to protect ourselves against.
Micro-organisms are vital to humans and the environment, but some are harmful to us. These are commonly referred to as germs. "Germ" is a catch-all term for these invisible organisms – mainly bacteria, fungi and viruses – which cause disease.
To protect you and your family from germs, hygiene experts say you should focus your cleaning efforts on germ hotspots in the home, such as cleaning cloths, sponges and chopping boards. Find out how to prevent germs from spreading.
Germs mainly enter the home on people, food and pets. Once they're in, they can spread from person to person, or from person to surface and back again (cross-contamination).
Common germs found in the home are:
Many of these germs are caught in the home. According to a World Health Organization report in 2003, about 40% of reported food-related outbreaks of infection in Europe occur in the home.
Microbiologist Professor Sally Bloomfield, of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH), says that home hygiene does not mean being obsessive about deep cleaning our homes. "Our routine daily or weekly cleaning habits actually have little effect in reducing our exposure to harmful microbes."
She says that most germs are spread on the hands and surfaces that come into contact with hands, cleaning cloths and utensils.
Bloomfield says focusing on germ hotspots is more effective at preventing germs spreading than a "once-weekly deep clean".
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.