After vacuuming the house from top to bottom, clearing the dishes and tidying up, many feel the weekly clean is done and it’s time to put their feet up.
But have you remembered to scrub the doorknobs and light switches?
Hygiene experts have warned these often forgotten surfaces, which we spend the most time touching, can pass on bugs like norovirus and the flu.
After vacuuming the house from top to bottom, clearing the dishes and tidying up, many feel the weekly clean is done and it’s time to put their feet up. But have you remembered to scrub the doorknobs and light switches?
It may not actually matter if a family go a fortnight without vacuuming, unless someone is allergic to dust mites. The same goes for making the bed, the less perfect housewives and husbands may be glad to hear.
But a doorknob or light switch, or a bathroom surface, could transfer bacteria which then gets into the body when someone next eats with their hands or rubs their eyes.
The advice to ‘identify critical points for transmitting infection’ is reported in today’s New Scientist magazine.
Dr Sally Bloomfield, a microbiologist and honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: ‘I think people forget to clean doorknobs and light switches because we focus on getting rid of visible dirt.
‘If you look at a door handle, you will say it is clean, I can’t see any dirt on that, but the thing we don’t realise is that what is visibly clean is not hygienically clean.
‘Someone suffering from norovirus, for example, could have thousands of particles on their hands. Their hands may look perfectly clean and the door handle may look perfectly clean, but there are more than enough particles to infect the next person who opens the door and touches their mouth.’
Previous studies have shown that staphylococcus aureus can be found in the home, which, if it gets into a cut, can cause sepsis.
Dr Sally Bloomfield, a microbiologist and honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: ‘I think people forget to clean doorknobs and light switches because we focus on getting rid of visible dirt'
But colds and flu are the more common risk, which people might be able to prevent passing between family members if they clean their light switches and doorknobs every week.
Dr Lisa Acklerley, food safety adviser at the British Hospitality Association, said: ‘It is the time of year when people are saying to me, so-and-so has given me this cold or flu, within their own home.
‘But actually you have got a bit of responsibility too and you have probably infected yourself rather than being infected by the other person.
‘That person will have spread the virus on surfaces like doorknobs and all over the place, but it has got into you probably through your hands.’
The advice from both experts is not to become paranoid about cleaning, but to practise ‘targeted hygiene’.
This means cleaning light switches - without spraying cleaning spray directly onto them and when the light is turned off – and door handles, which are touched frequently, as well as bathrooms, as they all carry high levels of bacteria.
It also means cleaning at the right time, for example if someone has just changed a nappy, after preparing food, before eating and after using the toilet.
Colds and flu are well known to spread through coughs and sneezes, but someone can also be infected through touching an infected surface at home and then their eyes, as the virus passes through the mucus membrane.
It is possible to relax a bit more about the floors and the bed sheets, as mites need a humid atmosphere to survive so leaving the covers open may kill them off.
Dr Bloomfield said: ‘For vacuuming, once