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Published: Tuesday, 10/25/2005

Clean Up On These Disinfecting Tips

Ramos is a designer on the television hit show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Ramos is a designer on the television hit show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

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. If yours is like most American households, millions of germs and bacteria are already lurking where you least expect them.

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.

Choosing the right materials and accents, from kitchen countertops and appliances to bathroom tiles and shower curtains, can help protect your family from germs that cause illness.

There are several easy ways to design and maintain 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 nonporous. 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 and Prevention, 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. Nontoxic paints are your best option since they don't contain harmful chemicals found in common paint thinners.

Finally, it's important to emphasize that 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 a disinfectant spray and wipes is a convenient way to ensure that your home is both clean and properly disinfected.

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