How to Prevent Germs from Spreading This Cold and Flu Season

The year may have just begun, but cold and flu season is in full swing. Naturally, you don’t want to pick up one of these nasty bugs at the office, nor do you want the kids to bring them home from school.

While there is no known remedy for these illnesses, an ounce of prevention can often equal a pound of cure. Learn how to prevent germs from spreading as best you can to lessen the chances of getting sick or making others ill, whether at home or work.

Download our Merry Maids "How to Stop the Spread of Germs During Flu Season" Guide

How to Clean Your Refrigerator

Clean Contact Points

The first step to figuring out how to prevent germs from spreading is knowing the main contact points in your home and office. These are going to be areas that are frequently touched or handled by multiple people. Some of the most common touch points at home and work are:

  • Door knobs, handles or locks
  • Light switches
  • Stair rails
  • Faucet and toilet handles
  • Refrigerator handles and stove knobs
  • Remote controls
  • Copiers and scanners
During cold and flu season, you’ll want to clean these surfaces more often than you would any other time of year. You can use a handheld steamer to kill germs if you have one. Alternatively, you can clean surfaces using disinfectant wipes.

If you’re concerned about contact points at work, ask the office manager to speak with the cleaning staff to ensure they’re paying extra attention to common points of contact during cold and flu season.

Understand Disinfectant

When thinking about how not to spread a cold or the flu, many people are quick to reach for disinfectant sprays or wipes. These can be effective means of killing many germs if used properly. Unfortunately, some people are under the impression that you can simply spritz or wipe with disinfectant and be done with it. There are actually three steps you need to take to disinfect surfaces:

  1. Clean the surface by misting it with the appropriate cleaner and wiping that with a microfiber cloth. Keep in mind, you’re just using a household cleaner at this point, not a disinfectant.
  2. Now, apply your disinfectant to the surface and allow that to sit for the recommended time found on the product label. This is important because it gives the disinfectant time to work.
  3. Rinse or wipe the surface to clean away any residue left by the disinfectant.

Wash Your Cleaning Supplies

As you clean, the microfiber cloths you use are going to get dirty. And if you continue to use these cloths without washing them, you’ll just end up spreading germs around.

One easy way to clean microfiber cloths is to soak them in hot soapy water for two to three minutes. Afterwards, rinse the cloth in warm water until there’s no more soap. Lay the cloth flat to dry or pop it in the dryer. Once the cloth has dried, you can use it to clean again.

Be Mindful of Shared Items at Home

You can’t exactly quarantine family members if they happen to get sick. However, you can figure out how to prevent germs from spreading in your home. Here are some tips to help you do so:

  • Wash communal throws or afghans weekly during cold and flu season. If someone in the house is coughing or sneezing, wash these items immediately.
  • Clean bedding daily until the sick person is better. If he or she has a fever, you’ll want to wash the bedding immediately.
  • Don’t share bath or hand towels, and make sure toothbrushes aren’t coming into contact with one another. Additionally, avoid using toothbrush covers as they can actually cause bacteria to grow, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Keep tissues around so that any family members who are ill can cover their mouths or noses when sneezing or coughing.

Teach Your Children Well

If you have kids or have ever worked in a school, you know that little ones are great at passing around germs. Educate your children on the extra steps they need to take during cold and flu season, so that they know how to prevent germs from spreading. Some general guidelines you might want to share (and use yourself) include:

  • Keep your hands clean by washing often. The CDC recommends scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds. Teach children to time this by having them sing the entirety of the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • Don’t share food or drinks.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Politely keep your distance from people who are sick.
If your little ones do get sick, you’ll be the one determining whether or not they should attend school. But who watches out for you? Make sure you do yourself and others a favor when you’re ill and stay home.

Nobody enjoys suffering through the misery a cold or flu brings. Do your best to stay a step ahead of these bugs by cleaning the Merry Maids way. And if you don’t have time to clean and take care of a sick family, let your local Merry Maids office lend a hand.

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