Best of…Dorm Life (5 Ways to Germ-Proof Your Space)

Staying_healthy_in_the_dorm_0During this September and October, U Chic will be running some great articles (i.e. oldies but goodies from our archives) as a part of our “Best of” Freshman series. Each one will focus on a specific topic designed to ease you into college life, while peparing you for your first year away from home. This week, we’re zeroing in on living in the dorms, and how you get into the swing of things while staying both happy AND healthy!

De-bugging Your Dorm Space

With cold and flu season just around the corner, college will soon start to eel like germ city. Classrooms, dining halls and dorms are constantly filled with students and can be a hotspot for bacteria and viruses that can make you seriously sick. Luckily, I’ve devised five simple ways to germ-proof your dorm so you can stay healthy all semester!

1.) Scrub It, Don’t Rub It!

I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure our hands spread massive amounts of germs on a daily basis. When I really stop to think about all of the sick people wh’ve probably opened doors, used communal bathrooms, or pushed elevator buttons before me, I’m fairly grossed out. It may seem basic, but don’t underestimate the importance of washing your hands! I recently learned that hot water doesn’t kill any more germs than cold water does, but the amount of time you spend scrubbing is very important. You should be washing your hands (with soap!) for at least 30 seconds, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. Just to be safe, keep a stash of Purell Hand Sanitizer in your dorm room and in your book bag so you can keep your hands clean when you’re not near a sink.

2.) Pop Your Vitamins Regularily

Remember those gummy vitamins mom used to give you every morning? (My personal favorites were the Flintstones Vitamins!) Well, you may be too old for Pebbles-shaped gummies, but your immune system still needs a daily dose of support. Regularly taking a multivitamin or a Vitamin C tablet is a great way to keep your body strong enough to combat the germs it encounters on a daily basis. Stock up at your nearest convenience store and keep your vitamins in a visible part of your room so you’ll remember to take them in the morning.

3.) Make Laundry A Priority

With cozy pillows and a soft blanket, my bed is one of my favorite places in the world. You can therefore imagine my dismay when I learned that my comfortable bed was a potential breeding ground for germs! It turns out that when you sweat in your sleep, your body sheds bacteria onto your sheets that can actually make you sick. Gross, I know. Even though it can be annoying, changing your sheets and towels at least once a week will keep any nasties from sneaking up on you.

4.) Disinfect Like It’s Your Job

I’m eternally grateful to Clorox for creating their amazingly convenient Disinfecting Wipes. These little guys are pre-moistened with disinfectants and can sanitize any surface in mere seconds. I use them constantly and really can’t imagine how people ever kept their dorms clean without them. I usually like to wipe down my computer keyboard, cell phone, door knob and desk since they are constantly being touched and exposed to different kinds of bacteria.

5.) Sleep It Off

Living in a dorm is a constant social experment. With so much happening in everyone’s lives, roommates can quickly become your second family. Just take into consideration that when you live with other people, their germs become yours and vice versa. As much fun as it is staying up all night partying, a solid sleep schedule is a really important part of staying healthy in college. Keep an eye out for your roommates and remind them to combat their cases of the sniffles with sleep. If their symptoms get worse, encourage them to go to Health Services. By looking out for each other, you can prevent anyone from becoming sicker and contaminating the rest of your dorm or hall.

— By Sarah Levy, Brown University

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