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6 Steps to keep your home germ-free this flu season

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Fight the flu in your house

The best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting the flu shot. Keeping your home germ-free this flu season can help, too. Follow these tips to help keep your home healthy and flu-free this year.

Woman doing laundry

1Avoid the flu virus

The best way to keep the flu virus out of your house is to avoid it altogether. Stay away from people you know have (or have been exposed to) the flu. Not bringing the virus in at all is easier than getting rid of it once it's arrived.

Stop the spread of cold and flu in your family >>

2Wash hands frequently

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after using the restroom or changing diapers, as well as before touching any food. Also, be sure to wash your hands as soon as you come home from public places. Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your car or purse, and use it after you visit the doctor's office, use a shopping cart or touch a door handle – all germ hotspots.

3Wipe things down

Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down items people touch frequently: phones, door handles, cabinet pulls, counters, tables, remote controls, the fridge door, toilet handles, computer keyboards and faucets. Keep the wipes in several locations around your house so you'll be more likely to use them.

The mom's guide to cold and flu season essentials >>

4Wash your linens

Wash your bed linens at least once a week to get rid of any lingering germs in the bedroom. These germs can build up in blankets and sheets and attack you while you sleep. Wash frequently used blankets and throws from other areas of the house, too. Change hand towels in the bathroom often, or use disposable ones to avoid any risk of transferring germs this way.

5Use high-efficiency filters

Standard furnace filters are more for protecting your furnace than for protecting you. The spaces between fibers on these filters are small enough to keep out large particles that might damage your furnace, but they're big enough to allow virus-carrying bacteria to sail right through. Instead, use high-efficiency filters, designed to filter out these tiny intruders as well as mold spores and pet dander. These newer filters are recommended by the American Lung Association for promoting respiratory health and avoiding viruses like the flu.

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These better filters are more expensive than standard filters but last for three months, while standard filters should be changed monthly. You should still check your high-efficiency filter each month for signs of wear or extreme buildup.

6Clean your cleaning tools

How often you clean doesn't matter if the rag you're using is filthy. Wash washcloths, dishrags and hand towels frequently, and let them dry out between uses. If you use disposable sponges, change them frequently and don't let them sit in water for long periods.

If someone in your household does come down with the flu, have them use disposable cups and utensils to minimize the risk of spreading germs.

More on flu prevention

7 Flu shot facts
Top 10 ways to avoid the flu
Reduce family colds & flu

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