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Flu Proof your Home

Germy Hot Spots

The sink, the telephone, children's toys, and doorknobs, cell phone and refrigerator handle are popular landing sites for virus and bacteria.

 

Disinfect the Desk

Disinfect your desktop weekly, along with the rest of the house. This could reduce your exposure to colds and flu by as much as 50 percent.

 

Don't Forget the Sponge

Your kitchen sponge should be replaced every couple of weeks. If that runs counter to your frugal ways, you can microwave it for one minute or run it in the dishwasher to eliminate germs.

Examine Product Claims Closely

The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of 500 products that disinfect hard, non-porous, surfaces against flu. It includes common household cleaners such as Pin Sol, Clorox, and Lysol. Look for the word "disinfect" or "sanitize" on the label; that means the EPA has tested and approved its germ killing power.

 

Natural Cleaner Alternatives

Some alternatives such as lemon juice, tea tree oil, oregano oil, or lavender oil have properties that kill microbes. But according to University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, these natural alternatives often work more slowly, impact a smaller spectrum of microorganisms, and kill fewer of them than products that have passed muster with the EPA.

 

Put It in the Wash

Modern technology can help do the disinfecting for you through powerful cleaning. Many dyer, dishwashers and washing machines have been certified by the NSF (formerly the National Sanitations Foundation) as germ-fighting appliances.

 

Make Hand-washing Fun

From singing Wash Wash Wash your Hands (to the tune of Row Row Row your Boat) to handy wall charts designed to get children involved in proper handwashing, you can teach your kids to keep track of all the daytime activities when handwashing is important: before mealtime, before playing with babies, after playing with friends, after coming home from school, after using the bathroom, and, of course, after every cough or sneeze.

 

Humidify

Some scientists believe an increase in humidity can make it harder for viruses to thrive and multiply, and using a humidifier can help create this inhospitable environment for the flu. But be careful; humidifiers can breed bacteria. Individual units must be cleaned regularly.