With the kids back in school this week, you know the germs will be coming back to the house at some point. But there are at least five things we can do to ward off the flu before it gets a grip.   

It seems like common sense to quarantine the sick person, but that's easier said than done.  I mean, how does a parent quarantine a 6-year old in need of juice, soup, and Kleenex?  Kids and spouses need help.  And germs are determined, so they're probably going to get to doorknobs and countertops whether we like it or not.  But there are some things we can do to attack them before they have a chance to attack us.

I stopped using a sponge to wipe down kitchen countertops several years ago when I read that they're huge bacteria spreaders, and getting rid of those is one way to disinfect the house, according to the Today Show.  There are other key ways to kill flu germs too.

5 Ways to Disinfect Your House to Kill the Flu Virus

1.  Deep clean common surfaces.  Use an antibacterial cleaner on tabletops, countertops, remote controls, computer keyboards, doorknobs, sinks, light switches, faucet handles, sinks, countertop, tub and toilet (including the entire seat and the toilet handle).  Don't think about it too much, just do it.  Just like the sting of a flu shot, it will be over in a sec.

2.  Stay on top of the laundry, but don't handle it too much.  A sick person's towels, bedding, and clothes are full of germs, so don’t “hug” dirty clothes as you take them to the washer because that could invite the germs to hop onto us. Ew.  Instead, we're supposed to carry the dirty clothes in a laundry basket and wash our hands right after loading the washer.

3.  Throw sponges away.   Instead of using sponges for cleaning, we should use disposable paper towels or microfiber cloths, which grab the germs.  The microfiber cloths need to be washed every day though.

4. Make everybody wash their hands, a LOT.   Really scrub with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom or being around the sick one.  If the sickee sneezes near you and you touch your own nose, well, the germs have a clear path to your throat and sinuses.  Gross.

5.  Disinfect the trash can.  Especially if the sick person vomits in it.  Double gross.  To disinfect it, rinse the wastebasket well then wipe the inside and outside with a solution of 1/2 cup bleach and 3/4 gallon of water.  Health experts say to allow two minutes for disinfecting and then rinse with warm water and air dry.  And line the trash can with a plastic grocery bag to catch all the tissues, and that will help minimize contact with germs.

We may have to steer clear of sick family members and friends for a while, but we can always hang out with the family dog since she never seems to catch our bugs.  Dogs must have really amazing immune systems.

Flu season typically lasts until February, so we've got another 6 to 8 weeks to arm ourselves with hand sanitizer and set a timer for 20 to 30 seconds to police our own handwashing.   And eat lots of grapefruit.  Just don't set in on that germy counter before you slice into it.


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