Germs: Cleanliness is Next to Sickliness

Dear Mr. Dad: With all the talk about bird flu and swine flu I’m in a panic about germs. I’m putting antibacterial soaps all over my house and hand sanitizers in the car and my kids’ backpacks. Is there anything else I can do?

A: The most important thing you can do right now is relax. There are a number of ways to reduce the risk that you or your children will get the flu (or come in contact with other dangerous germs), and antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers are at the bottom of the list: Get a flu shots every year, stay away from people who are sick, cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water (skip the antibacterial stuff, though—more on that in a minute), keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, or mouth (that’s the way most germs get into our body), get plenty of sleep, and eat right.
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Back away from that disinfectant: The case for letting your kids eat dirt

I admit to not keeping my house sparkling clean all the time (or even most of the time). And we’re big believers in the 5-second rule for food items that drop on the floor–unless the dog gets there first.

But I now have validation–from scientists at Harvard, no less–that a messy house might actually be a healthier house.

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