Cleaning & Organizing
8 Things You Should Clean to Avoid Cold and Flu
We do our best to fend off the flu every season, but sometimes we forget to clean these common germ magnets. Here's how to help keep your family cold- and flu-free.
Shutterstock / Alexander Raths
If you’re like us, when cold and flu season approaches, you brace yourself. Aside from getting the flu shot and eating the right foods to help prevent the flu, what else can you do to prevent the spread of germs to your family? Sanitize!
First, you can purchase commercial sprays and wipes or create your own. A 1:9 bleach solution is very effective. Just add ¼ cup bleach to a spray bottle containing 2¼ cups water. (Never combine bleach with any cleaning product other than laundry detergent.) Now, let’s look at what places are the worst for harboring germs and the best ways to disinfect them.
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Hands are the No. 1 conduit of infection. Many years ago in nursing school, I was taught that hand-washing is our best defense against transmitting pathogens to our patients. Hand sanitizers are helpful but are no substitute. You don’t need antibacterial soap, just wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Turn the faucet off with a bit of paper towel to prevent recontamination. And remember to keep hands away from your face.
Shutterstock / Oksana Kuzmina
Wipe down hard surfaces of toys with antimicrobial wipes. The same goes for remote controls, tablets and handheld games your kids—and you!—might play on. Plush toys can usually be washed in the washing machine and air-dried on a regular basis. (Make sure to clean your washing machine regularly, too.)
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Glassware and silverware
You can’t really go around spraying sanitizer in a restaurant, but you can be sure to thoroughly wash glasses, silverware and dishes at home. If you want to freshen up your kitchen in addition to disinfecting try cleaning with lemon.
Shutterstock / Muravev Dmitriy
Computers, keyboards, the computer mouse and desktops are full of bacteria. Wipes are safer for disinfecting electronics than spray (microfiber cloths are great), but if you can’t wipe the area down, be sure to at least wash your hands often. Don’t forget to tackle common areas like copy machines and the microwave in the break room (and at home, too).
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When you grab your grocery cart, look around: Grocery stores often offer sanitizing wipes to wipe the cart handle before you shop. Good idea! Again, keep in mind that wipes are not as effective as good hand-washing, so try to hit the restroom on your way out and give your hands a good scrub, or do it first thing when you get home. (Don’t forget to buy some baking soda while you’re there—it’s great for cleaning.)
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Knobs and handles
Door knobs, drawer pulls, refrigerator handles, faucets and more—give them a good wipe-down on a regular basis, even daily if someone in your household is ill.
Shutterstock / Serenethos
Think about how often you touch light switches throughout the day. Since they are electrical, skip the spray. Instead, wipe them down with a mild bleach solution to keep any bugs at bay.
Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia
Whether it’s at home or at the gym, workout equipment is a great place for germs to hide. Give surfaces a quick wipe-down with disinfectant before and after using. The dry towels supplied by many gyms only remove sweat, not germs.
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