During cold and flu season, you know germs are out there--in your office,
your child's classroom and other communal spaces. But did you know
those cold and flu germs can also lurk in your home? All it takes is one
sick family member or visitor to sneeze or cough inside and the resulting
droplets can deposit germs anywhere. Because the germs can stay active
from several hours to a couple of days, it's important to keep your
home clean to help prevent the spread of colds and the flu.
When cleaning, start with hot, soapy water and then use a disinfectant
that's effective against cold and flu germs (it should say so on the
label). Diluted bleach solutions can also disinfect if you follow the
instructions on the bleach container, but there are many potential health
hazards involved if not done properly. (For more information on disinfecting
with bleach, click
here. Try to use paper towels or disposable wipes you can toss when you're
done. If you use a rag, launder it in hot water after you're finished;
for sponges, disinfect wet ones in the microwave for one minute, run them
through the dishwasher, or throw them away. And pay special attention
to these five germ hot spots:
1. Bathroom faucets. If everyone in your family is washing their hands as they should be during
cold and flu season, that means many hands are touching the taps many
times. While you're scrubbing away those germs, give the bathroom
sink and counter a good wipe down, too.
2. Remote controls. What kid doesn't like to watch TV during the daytime when they're
home sick from school? But that means their hands are all over the remote,
and since it may not get cleaned that often, it's easy to overlook
it. The remote should be disinfected after a sick person uses it; one
way to do it is remove the batteries and wipe down the remote with rubbing
alcohol. You'll also want to clean phones, tablets or other personal
devices a sick person may share with other family members; there are special
cleaners on the market for electronics.
3. Table tops. Something like the kitchen table that gets heavy use should be cleaned
frequently with hot water and soap; if you use a disinfectant on a surface
you eat off of, check the label for proper usage. Another table top that
could use a good cleaning of cold and flu germs is a nightstand--especially
if it becomes the resting place for the sick person's used tissues
and water glasses.
4. Handles and knobs. These are other spots where there's a lot of hands-on contact. All
it takes is touching an infected doorknob and then rubbing your eyes or
nose with your hand, and you've got the recipe for an oncoming cold
or flu. Don't forget light switches!
5. Kitchen counters. Not only is this a high-traffic area all family members come in contact
with on a daily basis, but it's also where your food is prepared.
So be sure to keep this area clean regularly when colds and flus are circling
through your home.