When it comes to battling the flu virus, there are many steps you can take. Avoiding other people who may be sick, keeping your hands from rubbing your eyes, mouth or nose, keeping your hands clean, etc….. While these are all very important steps to avoiding the flu, perhaps the most important is identifying where flu germs hide in your home. This article from Enviro Maids, gives you some tips on where to find and fight the flu virus within your home.
Where Flu Germs Lurk
The telltale sounds of winter are in the air — coughing, sneezing, and sniffling. Trying to avoid catching the flu takes a lot of effort on your part — you constantly wash your hands, keep a safe distance from anyone who is sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and carry an arsenal of germ-killing hand sanitizer. While all these steps are important, one more step is necessary in the ongoing battle of the flu — getting rid of flu germs that lurk on surfaces throughout your house.
While getting the flu vaccine every year is the first line of defense against catching the influenza virus, there are other preventive cleaning steps you can take to ensure you stay as healthy as possible this winter. The following cleaning list also is effective in preventing other viruses not covered by the flu vaccine, such as cold and stomach viruses. According to Flu.gov, influenza A and B viruses can live on a surface for hours to days. That means it pays to be extra vigilant when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting during flu season.
Here’s how to win the battle:
- When it comes to zapping flu germs, you must disinfect surfaces, not just clean them. Cleaning physically removes dirt and germs, while disinfecting kills germs. Flu.gov recommends using a disinfectant that’s registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as being effective against killing flu germs. Visit their website for a full list.
- It’s important to ramp up your disinfecting routine during the flu season even before someone in your home comes down with the flu. That’s because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people may be able to spread flu germs to other people one day before coming down with any symptoms. The flu continues to be contagious five to seven days after becoming sick.
- Clean surfaces first to remove excess dirt, crumbs, etc. Follow by disinfecting with an EPA-approved disinfectant.
- When cleaning surfaces touched by a sick person, use disposable paper towels instead of sponges and dishcloths. If you do use a sponge, WebMD.com suggests disinfecting it each time by zapping it (while wet) in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. You can also run it through the dishwasher. Remember: unless you’re disinfecting rags and sponges between uses, you’re only re-contaminating surfaces.
- Disinfect surfaces that are routinely touched — doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, cabinet pulls, and electronic devices.
- Clean and disinfect bathroom surfaces daily. Don’t neglect forgotten areas such as the toilet handle and medicine cabinet door or handle.
- Avoid storing toothbrushes together and don’t use the same toothpaste as someone who is sick. Use paper towels or assign each family member their own hand towel to use after washing their hands.
- Launder bed linens and blankets often during the winter months, especially the sheets of those with the flu. Wash and dry on the hot setting. When removing soiled linens, avoid having them come in contact with your clothing. Hugging a heap of laundry close to your body gives you a higher risk for contamination. Don’t forget to wash your hands immediately after handling dirty laundry.
- If a member of your household has the flu, try to contain them to one room as far away from the common living area as possible. The same goes for bathrooms; if possible, designate one bathroom to be used by the sick person. It’ll be easier to stay on top of the germs if they’re confined to one area.
Keeping your home flu-free takes extra work on your part, but it’s worth it. Just remember: spring arrives next month and that means we’re that much closer to the end of the flu season!