How to Prevent the Flu from Spreading in Your Home
Flu season is in full swing. What can you do to help prevent the spread of germs within your home? If someone in your home has the flu, there are steps you can take to help prevent spreading the virus to each member of the family.
- Start with clean hands.
- Disinfect the germiest spots.
- Wash away germs from fabrics.
- Use the most effective cleaning solutions.
1. Start With Clean Hands
You may scrub every inch of your home as hard as you can, but if you don’t start with clean hands, those germs could quickly return. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you should wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soapy water to help prevent the spread of the flu. When washing with water, it’s important to scrub your hands together for at least 20 seconds, adds the CDC. Or, if you are using hand sanitizer, it needs to contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective.
2. Disinfect the Germiest Spots
Certain areas in a house are frequently touched and hot spots for germs. According to Good Housekeeping, these spots include appliance handles, faucets, remote controls, light switches, phones and doorknobs. You can use disinfecting sprays or wipes, or put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to clean these surfaces, Good Housekeeping says. If using wipes or a cotton ball, Parenting Magazine advises using a different one on each surface so you don’t transfer germs from one to the other.
3. Wash Away Germs from Fabrics
Having the flu usually means you’ll need a lot of rest, which may make your bed a comfy place for your germs to hang out. Good Housekeeping recommends washing your bedding and towels in hot water and then running a hot cycle without clothes and a bit of bleach to clean out the washer. Then, dry your linens on high heat or an antibacterial cycle, if your dryer has one. For any items you can’t put in the washer, use a disinfectant spray that is safe to use on fabrics, the magazine says.
4. Use the Most Effective Cleaning Solutions
Knowing how to clean is likely just as important as knowing what to clean when trying to prevent the spread of the flu. According to Everyday Health, when a product is labeled as a sanitizer, it means it kills more than 99 percent of specified bacteria in 30 seconds or less. When a product is labeled as a disinfectant, it kills all specified germs in 10 minutes or less. Whichever you choose, remember these tips while trying to prevent the spread of flu germs:
- Use paper towels or throw-away wipes instead of sponges to clean surfaces, says Everyday Health, as sponges can spread germs. If you only have a sponge available, Fitness Magazine suggests rinsing the sponge with hot water and letting it dry completely after every use.
- Everyday Health recommends using non-toxic cleaners or natural disinfectants when possible, and reading the label to determine if they are safe to use on children’s products, such as toys and highchairs.
- Business Insider suggests considering replacing your doorknobs with copper or brass ones instead of just cleaning them. These materials have antimicrobial properties and germs may die within minutes of contact, says Business Insider, making your door handles less of a germ hub.
You may not be able to avoid germs entering your home, but with proper cleaning, you might be able to at least help prevent the spread of flu germs.
Originally published on February 4, 2015.