It’s Autumn! There’s so much to love about this time of year, isn’t there? The crisp air, the crunchy leaves, the hot cocoa. There’s one thing we could do without, though: the germs. Yes, flu season has officially begun.
It’s difficult to determine exactly how many people become sick with the flu each year because not everyone reports their symptoms. Based on Centers for Disease Control data, between nine million and 35 million people catch the flu each year and as many as 710,000 people are hospitalized as a result.
Fortunately, it’s possible to decrease your chance of becoming ill through several preventive measures, including good hand-washing habits and vaccinations (with your doctor’s recommendation). It’s also important to keep your environment germ-free—especially your bathroom.
Here are six tips for keeping the flu out of your loo:
- Sanitize bathroom surfaces. After the flu virus is sneezed, coughed, spat, or wiped on your vanity and other surfaces, it can survive there for up to 48 hours. Using an antibacterial wipe or spray, clean your countertops, doorknobs, light switches, drawer pulls, sinks, soap pumps, and faucet handles. Every couple of days is sufficient if everyone’s healthy; if someone in your home becomes ill, switch to daily wipe-downs.
By the way, there’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. According to the CDC:
- Cleaning gets rid of germs by physically removing them. It doesn’t kill them.
- Disinfecting kills germs, but doesn’t necessarily clean surfaces.
- Sanitizing decreases the number of germs on a surface to a “safe level” through either cleaning or
Always carefully follow the directions for any cleaning products you use. Otherwise, you may just be moving germs around, instead of eliminating them.
- Protect your toothbrushes. Most of us stash our toothbrushes out in the open—often in the same holder with other family members’ toothbrushes. Especially during flu season, it’s best to store toothbrushes individually and inside a cabinet or drawer so they can’t be sneezed or coughed on.
If someone gets sick, replace their toothbrush as soon as they’re healthy again. You may have heard that you can sanitize toothbrushes in the dishwasher, but the American Dental Association advises against that. The harsh environment can damage the bristles and decrease its cleaning power.
And although it goes without saying, we’re going to say it: Don’t share toothbrushes. Ever.
- Replace your hand towels. Under normal circumstances, it’s good to wash your hand towels every couple of days. They collect germs quickly because they’re used frequently and, let’s face it, people don’t typically wash their hands as thoroughly as they should. If someone becomes ill, double-down on your linen washing and toss in your fabric shower curtains, liners, and rugs also.
- Dump the trash. Germ-laden tissues should be removed from your home every day. That may seem like overkill, but you don’t want Rover digging in the trash and spreading germs all over your home.
- Bump up the humidity. Interestingly, studies show the flu virus seems to thrive in cold, dry environments. So, humid air in your bathroom is actually your immune system’s friend during flu season (if not your hair’s).
- Deep clean. As soon as everyone in your house is healthy, give your bathrooms a good, deep cleaning to make sure the flu virus is completely eliminated.
Tired of cleaning the same old bathroom fixtures? Need an upgrade to help your space look as good as squeaky-clean feels? Contact us for a free in-home design consultation!