Let’s face it. Cold and flu season is upon us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 20% of the population catches the flu each year, but keeping your home clean can actually help you stay healthy.
1. Wash your hands. And stop touching your face! We’ve all heard it before. Wash. Your. Hands. People tend to skip hand washing more often in the winter because wetness can dry out the skin. Don’t! Instead, have lotion ready to moisturize your knuckles after washing. You can also use hand sanitizers products that contain a 60-95% alcohol concentration to avoid dryness. Also, stop touching your face! It’s the quickest way to get germs into your nose and mouth.
2. Disinfect your phone weekly. Your phone is one of your most-touched belongings, meaning the chances of it being contaminated with the flu virus or another microbe are higher. Note: Antibacterial wipes are not good for your phone. Instead, use a lint-free cloth and a mixture of equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol.
3. Replace toothbrushes. If you use disposable toothbrushes, make sure to replace them every couple of months. You can also boil them in hot water to disinfect them or even run them through the dishwasher.
4. Become a laundry machine! Do the laundry often and throw in things that get touched a lot, like throw blankets, bed sheets, hand and dish towels, etc. Use the hot water cycle for maximum de-germing.
5. Make cleaning easy so that you actually do it. Keep disinfecting wipes around the house for easy grabbing. Make sure that areas that get used often (like the kitchen and bathroom) and things that are frequently touched (like door handles and remotes) are cleaned and disinfected. It’s also a good idea to disinfect toys, electronics and faucet handles this time of year, since the flu virus can live on them for several hours.
6. Use the right products. Some products aren’t very effective in preventing the spread of illness-causing germs. The CDC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offer a register of antimicrobial products that are effective for disinfecting hard surfaces around your home.
There are also a lot of cheap and easy homemade cleaning solutions that will do the trick. You can do more than you’d think with vinegar, baking soda and rubbing alcohol.
If you do get sick this time of year, we have convenient care to get you back to enjoying the holiday season:
- Find same-day care with HealthPartners
- Need care now? Try these Park Nicollet resources
- Find walk-in care with HealthPartners Central Minnesota Clinic
We have a wide range of care options to get you the care and advice you need, when you need it.