You probably know some of the tricks to avoid getting the flu when you're out in public. You should wash your hands frequently after using an ATM, the pen at the grocery check out line, and the buttons on an elevator—all germ magnets. You should avoid people who look ill or have obvious symptoms. And you should get a flu shot.
But have you thought about how you should be cleaning and disinfection your own home to kill germs and prevent the flu? Believe it or not, the people who visit your regularly could be bringing the flu virus along as a hostess gift.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, "most studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for only two to eight hours after being deposited on a surface." So your guests may be long gone after say, your Super Bowl party, but the flu virus they left behind could be alive and well and thriving anywhere in your house.
I've put together this list of tips for how to clean countertops and other surfaces that could be harboring the flu virus or any other germs that could make you sick.
For starters begin by sanitizing objects that are touched regularly. A CDC tip sheet on cleaning for schools applies to the home as well. Some of the surfaces the CDC recommends cleaning regularly to avoid getting the flu include:
- computer keyboards (when was the last time you cleaned your home office desk?)
- faucet handles
I would add to the list:
- light switches
- toilet bowl handles
- knobs on cabinets
- drawer pulls
- appliance handles
- TV remotes
The CDC says that the flu virus is relatively weak, and most standard cleaning and disinfecting practices—such as spraying a surface with a cleaner and wiping it down with a paper towel—are good enough to kill the virus. However, the longer a cleaning product stays on a surface—called contact time—the more confident you can feel that it has killed the germs you are after.
Read the product label to see the manufacturer's recommended contact time for optimal use. Some products have a contact time of as little as 60 seconds to kill germs. Others are 10 minutes—meaning the surface needs to stay wet after application for 10 minutes for it to work.
As long as you're cleaning the most frequently touched items in your home, you are doing the best you can to kill germs and prevent you and your family from getting the flu.