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Letting Sunlight In Your House Actually Kills Germs

With cold and flu season getting into full swing, we're all looking for ways to keep the germs out of our houses, right? It's so hard when you've got little ones, especially if they're in school or daycare. Kiddos are germ magnets, and they bring home EVERYTHING! In addition to making sure your kids get their flu shots (so important!), you probably have a supply of sanitizer and wipes on hand. But there's another easy way to help keep your home as germ-free as possible: just pull back your curtains or open your blinds! New research shows that letting sunlight into your house actually kills germs, even when it's filtered through glass. So let that sun shine in!

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The study was published in the scientific journal Microbiome. Researchers constructed several dollhouse-sized rooms and filled them with a mixture of dust collected from local homes. The rooms were then exposed to either darkness, UV light, or natural sunlight. The researchers continued the exposure for 90 days, which is the amount of time dust can stay in your home, even with regular cleaning.

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Credit: iStock / evgenyatamanenko

The results are surprising and kind of cool! The research team found that the rooms that were exposed to natural sunlight (even through closed windows) had HALF the living bacteria as the darker rooms. Additionally, the natural light rooms killed off as much bacteria as the rooms exposed to UV light, which is a well-known disinfectant.

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Researchers found that 12% of bacteria in the dark rooms was alive after 90 days, compared to 6.8% in the sunlit rooms and 6.1% in the rooms exposed to UV light. Now, 6.8% is still a lot of live bacteria. But, it's definitely an improvement over the darker rooms!

We've known for some time that sunlight plays a major role in our comfort and physical health. But this research highlights another important role sunlight can play: improving our air quality. Now, that's not say that a little dirt and bacteria aren't good for kids. We all need to be exposed to bacteria in order to build our immune systems.

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More research needs to be done to figure out how to eliminate the bad bacteria, while leaving the good bacteria behind. But it's definitely a step in the right direction.

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