What They Mean for You and Your Family

Germs are everywhere. Most germs are actually good but some are bad. As a mother, you will want to protect your children from the harmful germs as much as possible.

A safe, clean, and healthy home is important to your baby and the whole family. Here are some simple guidelines.

Where Germs Grow in Your Home

The main sources of germs in your home are usually people, pets, food, and water. Some germs—especially bacteria—like to live in warm, moist places. They can grow and multiply quickly in places where water and waste collect, such as in sinks, toilets, wet towels, and the cloths and mops you use for cleaning.

Did you know that bacteria can grow and divide every 20 minutes? One single germ cell can become more than 8 million cells in less than 24 hours.

Bad Germs

Germs that can cause illness are called pathogens. They include the following:

  • Bacteria—such as salmonella or E. coli, which cause food borne illness.
  • Fungi—such as Candida albicans, which causes yeast infections; or some moulds, such as Cladosporium, which can cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.
  • Viruses—such as rotavirus, which can cause severe diarrhea in babies; or rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

How Germs Are Spread

Germs can be spread by direct contact, indirect contact, or through the air.

  • Direct contact is skin-to-skin contact with infected people or animals, or contact with blood or other body fluids. This is why hand washing is so important for everyone who comes in contact with your baby!
  • Indirect contact occurs when germs that are present in raw food or water, in soil, and on animals are picked up on your hands and transferred to the mouth, eyes, or nose. Common contact points include:
    1. Contaminated surfaces, such as dirty diapers, cutting boards, and items used to clean these surfaces, such as cloths and sponges.
    2. Pets and other animals
    3. Insects, like mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and spiders
  • Through the air. Germs are carried on dust that your skin sheds or in tiny droplets that leave our bodies when we are coughing, sneezing, or talking. Your baby could pick up these germs by breathing them in. Germs that can be transferred this way include childhood diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella, and other contagious diseases like tuberculosis.

Toothbrushes can carry germs too. Replace all toothbrushes every 3 months and after any upper respiratory, oral, or skin infection, including colds, sinus infections, and strep throat.

Controlling Germs: Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. Cleaning removes germs from surfaces; disinfecting actually destroys germs.

  • Cleaning with soap and water to remove dirt and germs is usually good enough. However, it’s important to routinely clean and disinfect surfaces.
  • While surfaces may look clean, many infectious germs may still be lurking. In some cases, germs can live on surfaces for hours—and even days.
To Clean or To Disinfect?

When you clean, you are physically reducing dirt and the number of germs on the surface you are cleaning. Cleaning requires soap (or detergent) and water, or a good cleaning solution, and strong scrubbing.

When you disinfect, you are killing germs. As a general rule, disinfect those areas where large numbers of dangerous germs may be and where there is a possibility that these germs could be spread to others. When you disinfect with a sanitizing wipe or disinfectant spray, you are actually killing most of the germs present on the surface you are wiping or spraying, giving even better protection. Disinfectants are regulated by Health Canada’s Health Canada’s Therapeutic Products Directorate and should be clearly labeled.

Tip: Prevent Germs by Keeping Surfaces Dry

Most germs cannot live long on a clean, dry surface. But just a few germs on a wet surface can survive … and will quickly multiply. You can help prevent the growth of germs by keeping surfaces, baby’s toys, and clothing clean and dry.

To Learn More…

Lysol Canada:
Canadian Public Health Association: