Life as we know it has changed, but many households are finally adjusting to the new normal that keeps everyone as healthy as possible. Although taking extra precautions requires more time-consuming tasks, we’ve gathered a few habits that make it easier to maintain a clean and safe home.

1. Post fun affirmations/notes/riddles near sinks for hand washing entertainment.

By now, you’ve likely heard the “Happy Birthday” hand washing guideline. If you haven’t, it’s recommended that you wash your hands for the length of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song. Chances are, if you’ve been doing this, you probably hate the birthday song by now. To increase the likelihood that you and your family will keep scrubbing for 20 seconds, post up positive messages near your sink. It could be a note from you, riddles, horoscopes, fun facts, word translations for a language being learned… get creative! 

Switch them out daily to keep things interesting and most importantly, keep those hands under the faucet for the recommended amount of time!

2. Create a designated laundry bin for “outside” clothes.

Clothing and other fabric items can harbor bacteria and viruses, which is why it’s been recommended to change your clothes after an errand run. A study from University of Arizona also found that mixing a contaminated item into a load of laundry could contaminate the other items. To be extra safe, designate a laundry bin for clothes that you’ve worn to the store or for clothes worn by a family member who is sick. This way, you won’t risk contaminating other items in the load and it’s easier to know which items need sanitization versus a typical wash.

Most high-efficiency washing machines have a sanitize cycle option. This cycle uses extra hot water to sanitize the laundry, but it’s much harsher on the wear of clothes. (If going out, you can choose to wear older outfits to prevent wear and tear on new outfits). If your machine doesn’t have this option, wash with the hottest setting possible. You can add in a laundry sanitizer or liquid bleach, too.

3. Wash cloth face masks at least once a week.

Speaking of laundry, if you’ve been using a fabric face mask, you’ll want to throw that into the sanitization load, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially released an advisory that anyone out in public should wear a cloth face covering and also shared a quick video on how to make a no-sew mask. If you are wearing your mask to the grocery store or pharmacy, it’s recommended to wash your mask (following the protocol in #2) at least once a week. If you come in direct contact with someone who is sick, make sure to wash and sanitize it before your next wear. 

4. Don’t forget about these high-touch items.

By now, we’ve gotten used to hitting high-touch surfaces with Lysol wipes as often as possible. These surfaces include countertops, faucet handles, doorknobs, phones and light switches. But there are other high-touch items that may be missing from the “Disinfect Often” list. Make sure to also hit the following items: keys, keyboards, remote controls, pet leashes, steering wheels, toilet handles, stairway railings, snack lids, vitamin lids, the fridge door and the coffee pot handle.