If you had a germ detector in your home, where would it lead you?
Straight to your baby's nursery or Junior's playroom. Since this is where your kid spends a good chunk of time, you need to zero in on these nasty germs—E. coli, rotavirus, cold, and flu—before they make him sick. Charles Gerba, Ph.D. (aka “Dr. Germ”), professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, identifies the hot spots and how to treat them.
1. Carpet or rug
Carpeting is like a sponge for germs—holding on to everything from diaper leakage to dirt tracked in on shoes. Vacuum three to four times per week and aim for a deep steam-clean every three months to kill germs below the surface.
There's no stopping it—these will go from mouth to floor and back again. Wipe down hard or rubbery toys after use with a nontoxic disinfecting wipe that won't leave nasty chemicals behind, such as Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes ($6; seventhgeneration.com). You can also toss hard toys into the dishwasher for a deep clean.
3. Changing table
The changing table is an obvious hot spot for E. coli bacteria left behind from poopy diapers. Wipe it down after each use with a nontoxic disinfecting wipe.
4. Stuffed animals
Like carpets, stuffed animals are mini—germ sponges. Ideally, you'll wash them once every three weeks or so in hot water with bleach (if possible) and then dry for 45 minutes on high heat. But if you're too busy, at least give them a spin in a hot dryer for 45 minutes.