TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Because of the coronavirus outbreak, many people are spending a lot more time at home these days. But germs are still lurking everywhere, and they can spread quickly. If you're not a germaphobe, now might be a good time to alter your habits to protect yourself, your families, and the public.
"Only 1 in 5 people actually wash their hands correctly," Dr. Charles Gerba, also known as Dr. Germ, said. A microbiologist with the University of Arizona, he's been studying the spread of germs for nearly 40 years.
A Florida teacher found a creative way to teach her students about the importance of hand-washing, especially during the coronavirus outbreak.
He says there are some things you need to know about germs and getting rid of them, especially if you're spending more time at home with the kids. "The main thing is to disinfect the kids' toys to begin with," Gerba said.
Also, everybody should have his or her own towel -- no sharing -- and you should probably wash it more than you're used to. "Change it every two or three days," Gerba suggested. "Wash it with hot water and let it dry for 45 minutes."
When it comes to washing your hands -- one of the most important things you can to stop the spread of germs, including the coronavirus -- Gerba says it's best to use liquid soap as opposed to bar soap. "If many different people use [a bar of soap], you can transfer germs that way," he explained. Once you have the soap, Gerba says you need almost to massage your hands and make sure to wash your nails, too.
The regular washing of hands could be the difference between this pandemic being an international crisis and a global catastrophe.
According to Gerba's studies, the average Arizonan only washes their hands for 11 seconds. He says that's not enough. People should be washing their hands for at least 20 seconds. "I prefer paper towels, dryers will work, too, but you have to make sure that your hands get dry," Gerba said.
The microbiologist also prefers disinfecting wipes over sprays. "You don't get an even area when you are spraying, and now you are going to wipe it, but you're supposed to let that stay for 10 minutes," he said. "One of the problems is a lot of the disinfectant will end up on the cloth."
Gerba also swears by hand sanitizer and believes you should get in the habit of putting it on regularly. "[Using] hand sanitizer at home one to three times a day, we found, broke the chain of the virus moving through the household," he said. According to him, You should be putting it on every time you come home. "We found in our studies [that] if you walk in the door with a virus on your hand, you'll spread it within four hours to 90% of the surfaces in the home, so you want to get it as soon as you get in the door," he said. Gerba says we also should focus on continually cleaning countertops, tabletops, and everything we frequently touch.
It’s super simple, cost effective, and the ingredients are readily available at any drug or grocery store.
Germs are lurking everywhere, but doing these little things can hopefully stop the spread and help Arizona families stay healthy during this unprecedented time.