6 Ways to Help Stop Germs From Spreading Through Your House

You can feel it coming: the scratchy throat, chills, and throbbing headache. You're coming down with the flu. Should you quarantine your family and clean every surface in your house? Will it help keep your family from getting sick, or just give everyone cabin fever?

Help Stop Germs From Spreading

When someone in your house starts to sniffle, there are measures you can take to help keep everyone else healthy. These tips will help you stop germs from spreading:

  • Get vaccinated. The single best way to keep from getting the flu and spreading it to your family is to get vaccinated each year. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.
  • FDA Ban on Certain Antibacterials in Hand Soap: The FDA recently banned certain antibacterials, including triclosan and 18 other ingredients, from use in consumer anti-bacterial hand soaps.  The FDA, CDC, and other independent studies found that you are able to remove bacteria from your hands, and help prevent the spread of illness, just as well by washing your hands for 20 seconds with plain soap and water. Plus some studies suggest that these newly banned antibacterials may be linked to adverse health and environmental impacts.
  • Wash with plain soap and water. We can’t say it enough: Handwashing is one of the best way to help stop viruses and bacteria from spreading. But getting little ones to wash is easier said than done, right? Teach toddlers proper handwashing before they get sick: Lather up for 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” .
  • Try a botanical disinfecting cleaner. Seventh Generation disinfecting cleaners with CleanWell™ patented technology kill 99.99% of household germs botanically on hard nonporous surfaces. Contains no bleach or phosphates, creates no harsh fumes, and leaves no harmful residue. These disinfecting cleaners can be used around kids and are effective against Influenza A viruses including H1N1 and Rhinovirus, the Common Cold virus.
  • Disinfect strategically. For everyday cleaning, plain soap or all-purpose cleaner can do the trick. But when someone in your house is sick, a disinfectant product can help kill household germs. You don’t need to disinfect your house from top to bottom. The CDC recommends disinfecting areas where there can be large numbers of household germs — and where there is a possibility that these germs could be spread to others. Here are some hotspots to hit:
  • Doorknobs
  • Faucet handles
  • Toilet flushers
  • Bathrooms
  • Phones
  • Keyboards
  • Remote controls
  • Countertops
  • Tables

Be sure to use disinfecting cleaner with a paper towel or a disinfecting disposable wipe so you can throw it into the trash can when you’re done and keep germs from contaminating other surfaces.

  • Avoid close contact. Quarantine just isn’t realistic, but you can try to steer clear. If you’re caring for a sick child, encourage the other kids to play in their own rooms for a few days. If it’s you who’s under the weather, try to avoid contact with healthy people as much as possible. (Yes, that means letting the dishes pile up, microwaving dinner, and allowing the kids to entertain themselves.)
  • Don't share. Reaching for your husband’s towel to wipe your hands or letting kids share blankets on the couch is everyday routine. But when someone’s sick, it’s best to make sure everyone uses their own eating utensils, towels, pillows, and blankets. Do wash the sick person’s stuff before anyone else uses it, but don’t worry about washing separately from your normal dishes and laundry.
  • Throw away your tissues. Covering your sneeze or cough with your sleeve or a tissue can help keep germs contained. But germs can lurk on used tissues for hours (yuck!). Throw tissues straight in the trash can instead of letting them pile up on the couch, where they can spread even more germs.