Keeping your home free of germs can both prevent your family from becoming sick, and help them get better if they do. Follow these simple steps to germ-proof your home and keep your household well this winter.
Wash your hands. The simplest and most effective way to stop germs from spreading is to wash your hands with soap and water. The temperature of the water doesn’t really matter — just make sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds. An easy way to time it is by singing Happy Birthday twice. Use disinfecting gel if you can’t get to a sink.
Clean all doorknobs and handles. These are the spots touched by everyone, and bacteria and viruses can live on them for up to 48 hours. Spray these areas with an EPA-registered disinfecting spray (listed on the label), which will kill the influenza A virus on hard surfaces and fight against the H1N1 flu strain. Make sure the area is clean of any visible dirt before spraying, and allow it to stay wet with disinfectant for the length of time specified on the label, making sure to spray a second time if it dries too quickly. The disinfectant must be allowed to air dry, as germs are killed during evaporation. For any items that can’t get wet, such as remote controls or light switches, dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, squeeze out the excess, and wipe the items down. Be careful not to let any liquid get inside.
Clean bedding and sofa accessories. Wash sheets, pillowcases, and bathroom towels in hot water and dry them using the highest temperature setting. For sofa accessories, wash according to the directions on the label, and spray any non-washable fabrics with a fabric-safe disinfectant spray, but make sure to test it on a hidden spot first. Run the empty washing machine on a normal hot water cycle with bleach to kill any remaining bacteria, and always make sure to wash your hands after touching dirty linens.
Regularly wash dirty bath towels. Give a sick family member his/her own towel to use until he or she gets better. Alternatively, you can temporarily replace hand towels with paper towels to prevent germs from spreading.
Get rid of dirty tissues. Empty the trash barrels and clean them with disinfecting wipes or spray.
Buy a new toothbrush. Although these should be replaced every three months anyway, it is always a good idea to get a sick person a new germ-free toothbrush.
Close the toilet before flushing. Flushing with the lid up can shoot germs up into the air, allowing them to land on the doorknob, faucet handles, and even toothbrushes.
Don’t share food, drinks, or silverware. It is a good idea to provide a sick family member with his/her own designated dishware until he or she recovers.
Sneeze into your sleeve. Always sneeze and cough into your elbows or sleeves to prevent germs from spreading. If you use a tissue, you must immediately throw the tissue away and wash your hands.