Germy McGermerson comes for a ride
September 24, 2016 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I, a person who catches every single little virus that comes my way, foolishly agreed to driving a local kid to a weekly activity. Said kid is a germ pit; he seems to have a new virus every week. What kind of cleaning products can I use in my car to minimize my exposure to viruses? (I have already ruled out creating a complete bubble wrap enclosure around Germy's car seat.)

The drive is about half an hour each way, and I will be spending about an hour sitting in my car waiting for my kid and Germy while they do their activity. His parents know about my crappy immune system, so if he's coughing and sneezing a lot, I will not be picking him up. He will get his hands sanitized when he gets in the car.

I've been researching different disinfectants but what can I use that won't wreck my leather seats? I've learned that I won't be wiping down the surfaces with Norwex cloths or diffusing essential oil blends. So should I just bring a tub of Lysol wipes and wipe all the surfaces off when they go to their activity, and again after I drop Germy off? Bleach diluted in a spray bottle? Hydrogen peroxide? Borax? Is there any value in using those Lysol disinfectant air sprays? (The perfumes give me headaches.) Is there a similar, non-perfumed spray product I can use?

I keep googling various CDC recommendations for disinfecting, but I can't find anything that details exactly what those disinfectant products are. I just keep getting details on the procedures for disinfecting.
posted by bluebelle to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Are you opposed to wearing gloves and/or a droplet mask? Because that'd really be more effective than worrying about surfaces you're unlikely to touch except as part of your cleaning regimen.
posted by teremala at 8:48 PM on September 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

I was getting overwhelmed by germy kids and getting sick over and over again, until I started taking a multivitamin every day and zinc when I felt a cold coming on. Consider something along those lines in addition to the wiping down car? Also, consider driving with the windows open?
posted by Toddles at 8:53 PM on September 24, 2016

Put towels over all of your seats, and use vinegar spray and/or Lysol wipes on windows/door handles?
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:05 PM on September 24, 2016

if he's sneezing you're out of luck. droplet particles from sneezes can fly off up to 3m depending upon the force of ejection, and these fine droplet particles with virus in it are what you will inhale. You can only avoid this by wearing a mask which covers your nose and your mouth. [I have worked as an infection control nurse]

You can open the windows to hope that they get blown out that way ... otherwise, as soon as he's out and you're able to, wipe it down with alcohol based cleanser and just leave the car in the garage and within 24 hours it'll be safe enough again.
posted by owlrigh at 9:33 PM on September 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Don't eat, drink, or apply cosmetics in the car, which should help you keep your digits away from your face.
posted by kapers at 9:55 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Most Lysol and other spray-type similar products squick me out and make me feel worse for smelling them, but the Lysol "Crisp Linen" variety is surprisingly inoffensive to me. I see they have a "for baby's room" version which claims to be "lightly scented," too.

Is young Germy a wee toddler in a five-point-harness or an older kid in a high-back booster? If on the older side I might load up the back seat with tissues whose box is emblazoned with the licensed character of choice and put this car trash bin in front of him and make clear that every disposable everything gets disposed of there so you don't end up having to pick up so much as a stray applesauce pouch, and make sure he learns to sneeze politely (into a tissue that he then throws out, and as much as I loathe hand disinfectants I wouldn't have a problem making him use one post-sneeze).

If you would not want to wear a mask for fear of looking peculiar, you could pretend to be an old-fashioned posh lady driving a convertible and wear sunglasses and cover the rest of your head, mask included, with a lovely silk scarf.

Dettol is very effective and very multi-purpose -- you can make it into a spray, you can add it to your laundry, you can keep it in your first aid box, etc; it might be a good solution if you don't want to end up buying a lot of different products.
posted by kmennie at 10:40 PM on September 24, 2016

WELCOME TO PARA-PARENTHOOD! I'm currently recovering from awfulness after a school visit, in spite of years of crowded train exposure to everything previously known to science.

Wash your hands and face at the end of the drive, and don't eat or touch your eyes and mouth in the car and until after you've washed up. You can also wear glasses for some eye protection without looking like a mad scientist.

That's the best you can do short of putting a mask on.

You may want to back out of this promise if it's too stressful.
posted by zippy at 11:15 PM on September 24, 2016

If your kid is sitting by germy then your kid is going to catch his viruses and you're going to be exposed anyway in the course of parenting your own.

Personally I would try to find an immune support supplement that you like/find helpful and try to calm down. Parents with young children catch EVERYTHING. Then they get older and you are immune to most things, having had them in the previous decade, and it stops. In my experience the only way out is through.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 12:50 AM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Are you opposed to wearing gloves and/or a droplet mask? Because that'd really be more effective than worrying about surfaces you're unlikely to touch except as part of your cleaning regimen.

Please don't wear a mask when driving this kid around, especially if he'll see you in other contexts (dropping your own kid off at school, for instances) without a mask (and/or sunglasses and scarf...). If you live anywhere where masks are not a common sight, this will send Germy all kinds of wrong messages, and it might make him feel guilty if you do get sick at some point, even if it's something not virus-related.

I'd possibly clean the door handles that you both might be using, but if this is so stressful for you that you'd be wiping the seats and other surfaces several times in one trip, I'd seriously consider backing out of the arrangement.
posted by Ms. Next at 3:36 AM on September 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

I thankfully only have to do this obligation for about a month and a half, and I'll certainly be backing out if I get deathly ill but I need to give it a shot first.
I am up for wearing a mask. It won't be a problem on the highway but might look a little funny while waiting in the gossipy small town where the activity takes place. Still better than getting sick.
Germy is preschool age so he will be in a forward-facing car seat and doesn't understand he has to cover his face when he sneezes or coughs.
posted by bluebelle at 5:28 AM on September 25, 2016

Germy is actively sick in this scenario, and bluebelle is going to be in close proximity in a closed space for an extended period of time. "I have to wear this mask to help keep myself safe/healthy" is a reasonable lesson, and it sounds like Germy's parents can be recruited to help him process it.
posted by teremala at 5:30 AM on September 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd be all about ramping up my immune system if this was my problem. Used to work with kids (playschools are pretty much one giant petri dish) and theres only so much you can wipe down and disinfect without losing your mind and becoming like that weird little man in that tv show.

def would. eat zinc and a good multi, have you seen those liquid vitamin thingies you spray in your mouth and they get absorbed through your mucus membranes? shits pure gold. also, walks outdoors (anything outdoorsy - raking, petting cats, cows, whatever) is one way of germ proofing yourself. staying warm & making sure you get enough Zzs and excercise. cutting out dairy completely usually wipes out any creeping bug i have going on. also, drinking plenty and eating warm meals and taking time to chill. one of my bros is conviced nowadays that he catches every bug and he sort of does. really feel that part of it really is the amount of stress he has in his life, because he never used to get sick this. could be wrong though.

*ohh, and if my three year old niece knows to cover her mouth when she coughs/sneezes, this germball kid should figure it out too. maybe show him some cool mysterious vampire elbow moves that makes it more fun and less of a weird adult request.
posted by speakeasy at 5:40 AM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am kind of germ-averse as well-- when everyone else catches a cold, it lasts a couple of weeks. When I catch one, I get follow-on infections that knock me out for three months. One thing that helped me a lot: saline nasal rinse and hot tea. I read somewhere that if you wash your hands, gargle or drink hot tea, and do a saline rinse shortly after being exposed to cold germs, you'll get rid of the virus before it has time to infect you. It seemed kind of woo, but it has definitely cut down on the number of times I get sick when the rest of my family goes down.
posted by instamatic at 8:05 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I read you can put Neosporin in your nose to combat any germs you inhale. Worth a shot?
posted by Threeve at 10:09 AM on September 25, 2016

This year, I'm going to get the flu vacc. I haven't before, but I've come to the realisation that I am always hit and always hit badly. Also, I've just read "The Diet Myth" and it has been quite a revelation. Maybe you can ramp up your immune system by changing your diet. It's been said that you can completely change your system within only a week! (The book doesn't give practical advice, others do).

For reasons, I regularly care for a couple of kids who are challenging. I love them, dearly. But they are different in ways that make it difficult for my own kids to accept them, and for me to bring them to social situations I'd like to participate in. Having them as part of my life is not easy at all, and even when I'm alone with them, I sometimes despair. What I do is I vent to my sisters and my close friends, and right now here. I admit it is a struggle only to people whom I trust not to tell the kids. And I try to be the best possible adult when I'm with them.

You can have some baby-wipes in your car, and wipe both your own child and little Germy on their hands and face when you start off. This is something I might do with my own children when picking them up from kindergarten, if we were going places. It is probably also very efficient for avoiding contagious diseases. You can do it again after sports.

Please do not use antibiotics without prescription.
posted by mumimor at 10:19 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

When my kid was in preschool, she was taught to sneeze or cough into her elbow (or sleeve, depending on the weather). Maybe you could ask the parents to ask Germy's preschool if they would do the same.

Seconding the suggestion to wipe down the kids before they get into the car (both ways). My kid's first grade teacher had the class wash or wipe their hands every time they came into the classroom. He was one of the only teachers at the school didn't have any sick days during the year.
posted by mogget at 2:05 PM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

doesn't understand he has to cover his face when he sneezes or coughs

consider this a teaching moment! every time he sneezes/coughs, remind him to sneeze into his elbow (you don't touch doorknobs etc. with your elbow!). it amazes me how many adults do not cover their mouths at all, or sneeze into their hand then go to shake mine. drill it into him until it's a reflex and he's teaching other little germies to do the same thing.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2016

« Older Which newsreels should I watch?   |   Help, I have mice. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.