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As we head into winter, it also means cold and flu season. Every year, up to 20% of the US population gets the flu, while over 200 cold viruses make their rounds throughout homes across America. At a minimum, these viruses make whole households miserable, and in those susceptible can lead to serious illness and death. But, a little extra vigilance can help prevent some of those germs from making their way into your home. Here are our tips to keep your home clean during the flu and winter season.

Preventing the Flu from Entering Your Home

Let’s talk about prevention. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So it makes sense that anything you can do to prevent the flu from getting into your home in the first place is a good first step to staying healthy this flu season.

According to the CDC, the flu can live for up to 48 hours on some surfaces and continue to infect you and your family. In addition to going to work and school, we’re also often out and about during the holiday season. One of the best things you can do to lessen the chances of bringing the flu into your home is to stop it in its tracks. Try doing the following:

Take shoes off at the door to keep your floor cleaner and to prevent the spread of germs that way. You can even take it a step further by wiping soles with a sanitary wipe like Lysol.

When bringing groceries or other shopping items home, wash your hands before putting away your items and once again after.

Have extra containers of sanitizing wipes that are effective against germs. Wipe doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, etc. frequently.

Don’t forget to sanitize your cell phone frequently. Research shows that cell phones are 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. And, let’s face it. We use our cell phones everywhere. When you’re out and about during flu season, there’s no telling how many flu-infected coughs and sneezes land on your phone. In fact, most cell phones are also contaminated with MRSA, E. coli and Strep germs. Wipe your phones often with antiviral or alcohol-based wipes and sprays to keep them as germ-free as possible.

Sanitize hard surfaces like kitchen countertops, faucet handles, food prep areas, refrigerator handles, and desks often. Pay special attention to areas in the kitchen where you prepare food. Choose a cleaning product with a disinfectant to eradicate cold and flu germs.

Mop often during flu season using hot water and a disinfecting cleaner. Soak your mop between uses in hot water with a couple of drops of Clorox added to it and rinse well. This will help you to prevent from spreading germs around.

Soak toys in hot soapy water often during flu season. Our kids tend to pick up nasty bugs from preschools and schools and then bring them home.

Wash your hands frequently. There’s nothing like good old-fashioned preventive techniques like hand-washing to prevent the spread of germs.

Stopping the Spread of Germs Once it’s in Your Home

Let’s face it. The flu can be a tough thing to conquer. So, let’s say you’ve done your best to avoid getting sick. But, someone at the supermarket decides to share the love and coughs right in your direction. Two days later, you’re sick and the flu has made its way into your home. What can you do to prevent your whole household from getting it?

It’s possible to keep those germs from spreading throughout your home. Let’s see how it’s done.

Continue the steps outlined in the previous section.

Clean and disinfect your home often before, during, and after illness appears in your home. Remember, to pay extra attention to hot spots like dish towels, cutting boards and counter surfaces, sinks, floors, and the bathroom.

Sick family members should avoid contact with family members who aren’t sick.

Avoid sharing towels, dishes, utensils, and other shared items. Keep items used by sick family members separate and sanitize those items. Remember to clean bedding and blankets used by the sick person as soon as the illness is over.

Wash hands often, especially after cleaning or handling anything touched by a sick family member. Have alcohol-based sanitizers in each room during flu and cold season and use them diligently.

Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent the spread of germs to others. Remember this is probably why you ended up getting sick yourself.

A little vigilance can go a long way in preventing the aching, coughing, and sneezing misery we often see during the flu and winter season. Practice good preventative tips like we’ve listed above and clean your home often to prevent the spread of germs. You may even consider hiring a cleaning agency to do some of the cleaning for you.