Wipe Out Flu Germs Before They Spread

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

With the cold and flu season upon us, it’s time to get serious about cleaning our homes of the germs that may be left behind by an infected person. Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on surfaces and infect others for 2 to 8 hours.

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and land on surfaces wherever they fall.

Several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents, iodine-based antiseptics, and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. Wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. Rub gels into hands until they are dry.

More tips for keeping germs at bay in the home:

  • Wear gloves when cleaning.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself against airborne germs and viruses.
  • Wash hands frequently while cleaning. Germs aren’t just on toilets! You can pick up the flu virus by just touching a doorknob.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth while cleaning.
  • Discard personal care items such as toothbrushes or disinfect in peroxide.
  • Change the vacuum bag after extended periods of illness. It’s a good idea to get used vacuum bags out of the house because germs are in the accumulated dirt.
  • When humidity levels are low, as they often are in winter, viruses and bacteria can spread more easily and nasal passages can’t filter as effectively, increasing illness. Installing HEPA filters throughout the home can help confine airborne allergens including household dust, mold and pet dander.
  • Help fight the growth of bacteria and mold in the home by using a humidifier designed to guard against germs.
  • Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. The high heat of a dishwasher will immobilize flu germs.
  • Bed sheets and towels should be washed by using household laundry soap and dried on a hot setting. Wash hands with soap and water after handling dirty laundry.

Resource: www.cdc.gov