10 flu home cleaning tips

here's how to keep the flu virus away and your family healthy through a clean home.

Our closed up homes during the chilly flu season makes them virtual incubators of germs and viruses.

Where else can they go? 

They don't have any other exit route. 

And all the warm bodies - us! - inside provide a perfect growing ground on which cold and flu germs and viruses can gain a toehold.

You can get the virus when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. (Ick.)

beware the hard surface germs and viruses.

You can also pick up the germs by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.

While we can't do much about the cooler temperatures outside or the germs floating around inside buildings and our homes, we can practice flu prevention measures to keep our families healthy.

This season, the most common viruses are influenza A (H1N1 - also known as the swine flu), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B viruses.

Although we're in the thick of influenza season, it's not to late to get the flu vaccine - even if you've already had one strain of the virus.

Here are 10 ways to keep the virus away and your family healthy through a clean home.

1. seasonal flu prevention.

Talk about under-rated! Hand-washing is the single most effective means we have for preventing the spread of viruses and germs.

Make washing hands a frequent part of your children's day. (Tell them they can finally play in water.)

Remind them that for hand hygiene to be effective, they must rub vigorously for at least 30 seconds to kill germs, about as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.

Carry a hand sanitizer for those times when you don't have access to water.

2. Cover Your Cough.

When you have symptoms - such as a cough - cover it with a tissue. When you're without one, an elbow will do. Then throw the tissue away. (Keep the elbow.)

3. Get an influenza Shot.

This is especially important if you have a baby at home, or someone with a weak immune system. In short: Don't go there.

Shots are easily obtained at pharmacies and grocery stores. Save yourself the headache (and worse) and be proactive now. It's not too late.

4. Wash the Bedding of anyone with symptoms Separately.

Do separate loads for family members with viral symptoms to ensure no transmission of germs happens in the laundry room.

And be sure to keep dirty laundry as far from your mouth, nose, and eyes as possible. When drying, choose the machine's hottest setting. It's the best way to kill germs.

5. Clean Kitchen Surfaces regularly.

The worst germ-breeding object in your house is the kitchen sponge or dishrag. The moistness in sponges creates an ideal growing environment for these nasty little creatures.

Remember this as you're bringing in soup bowls and water glasses from your family patient to ensure there's no cross-transmission here.

The contagious period runs from a day before symptoms appear to up to 5 to 7 days after. Be vigilant here.

Remember to use a disinfectant on sponges regularly - or just pop them in the dishwasher next time you run it. 

6. Disinfect Your Home's Surfaces.

Regularly clean doorknobs, faucets, countertops, computer keyboards, and other frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant wipe or spray.

7. Remember To Take Care of Yourself.

Cold germs and viruses are around all the time. So why aren’t we sick all the time?

Healthy, well-nourished, well-rested people can fend off most germs and viruses. And if you do get sick, good health usually helps you recover faster.

Make sure your family gets at least eight hours of sleep a night, eats healthy meals (lots of fruit and vegetables) and exercises daily.

8. Keep the Virus Home.

If you or your child is running a temperature, another one of the virus symptoms, stay home. Do not go out and infect others. That's how an epidemic starts.

9. Take antiviral Medication.

If you get sick, start an antiviral prescription medication right away.

Taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms, they can lessen the severity of your symptoms. They can also prevent serious virus-related complications, like pneumonia.

10. Finally, if you're still not better after several days, call a doctor.

If you're not better after several days, call your doctor. It's time to replace doctor Mom with a doctor of the licensed sort.

For more tips on stay healthy, visit the Centers for Disease Control.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.