You’ve probably heard that the flu virus is particularly bad this year. The severity of the flu has led to some schools closing for “flu days” and the virus has even led to tragic deaths. You may be wondering how you can protect yourself and your family, beyond ensuring that everyone gets the flu shot. It turns out that there are actually steps you can take when cleaning your house in a way that prevents flu germs from spreading.
Below are some top tips for avoiding the flu through cleaning.
1. Use Approved Cleaning Products
In order for a product to claim it can kill the flu virus, it must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and have a registration number on the bottle. “Read and follow label directions at all times,” Brian Sansoni, vice president of communication at the American Cleaning Institute, recently told Martha Stewart. “Disinfectants and disinfectant cleaners are the only products that kill germs—but they only work if the label directions are followed.”
2. Wash Your Hands—Seriously
Growing up, my mom always instructed me to wash my hands the minute I stepped in the door. And with good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands often, preferably with soap and water, but alcohol-based hand rub will work in a pinch.
You may think you know how to wash your hands, but doing it the right way is essential. “The biggest mistake is not covering the surfaces most likely to touch, which are the fingertips,” Dr. Elaine Larson, associate dean of research at Columbia University School of Nursing, told CBS News. “People rub their palms together, when fingertips are most critical.” You should also scrub for at least 20 seconds to get the full benefit.
3. Beware The Germs On Your Clothes
After a day out in the world, you’re bound to come into contact with tons of germs. “When you bring something in from the outside, whether it be shoes or clothes, think about what they will come in contact with,” Jason Tetro, microbiology researcher and author of “The Germ Files” told Healthline. When you come home and plan on staying there for at least a few hours, Tetro says it’s not a bad idea to change clothes to prevent the spread of the germs you’ve picked up while you were out.
4. Use Disposables
Cold and flu germs can cling to fabric and other surfaces, so rather than trying to keep up with constant dirty dishes and towels, you can replace hand towels with paper towels and dishes with paper versions if someone in your family is sick. And yes, don’t eat or drink after other people!
[h/t Martha Stewart]