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how to prevent colds and flu

The reason why we often keep getting colds during the winter is not because of the weather, but because we're all cooped with each other (and each other's germs) indoors.

Ugh. What can a parent do to keep cold and flu viruses out of our homes?

Although we can't eliminate cold and flu viruses entirely, these simple house cleaning tasks and preventative measures can help keep these menacing germs at bay.


hand washing is still the best way to prevent colds and flu.

Washing hands is the single most important prevention method in your family arsenal. Have your kids wash their hands. A lot. (Tell them they can finally play in water.)

This is especially important after they come home from school. Cold and flu viruses are commonly spread by touching a germ-laden surface, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Voila! You're infected.

To get hands really clean, remind kids to scrub vigorously for at least 30 seconds to kill germs. (Tell your child to wash while she sings the Alphabet song. That should do it.)

during cold and flu season, regularly disinfect home surfaces.

Cold and flu viruses can survive for hours on hard surfaces in your home, especially plastics and metals, as well as on children's toys. A cleaner labeled "disinfectant" will kill most tough germs on hard surfaces. Ammonia, lemon juice, and vinegar, contrary to popular opinion, don't actually kill bacteria or viruses.

Save time by choosing a bleach-based cleaner that both cleans and disinfects at the same time. (Mix your own using 3/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water.) Spray directly on a non-food surface, and let the solution work its magic for 10 minutes. Wipe dry with paper towels and toss. 

wash the clothes of flu sufferers separately.

If someone in your home does come with symptoms, here's how to prevent colds and flu from reaching other family members:

  • Wash his or her bedding separately
  • Keep the dirty laundry as far from your mouth, nose, and eyes as possible.
  • When drying, use the dryer's hottest setting. It's the best way to kill germs.

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. It's the best way to keep your family healthy, and to stave off cold and flu viruses.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for products and tools for cleaning and disinfecting your home.



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About the Author

Tara Aronson

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.