11 Ways to Flu-Proof Your Home

Is there anything worse than the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, and overall misery of the flu? Well, get ready, because the beginning of winter marks the official start of the flu season, putting you at risk for all that and more. Fortunately, there are some smart steps you can take now to prevent nasty viruses from settling into your home. Read on to discover how to stop germs at your doorstep.

  1. Sanitize "Touchy" Surfaces

    Clean flu viruses off hard surfaces

    Know the facts: Flu viruses can live for two to eight hours on hard surfaces. So it's no surprise that many people get infected by touching a germy household doorknob, light switch, or remote control. Disinfect these surfaces frequently, using sanitizing antiviral wipes. If you don’t have wipes on hand, spray those germ-catchers with white vinegar, and then dry with paper towels.

    Related: 11 Home Hazards to Know and Avoid


  2. Wipe Your Feet

    Wash shoes during flu season

    Flu viruses and bacteria can hang out in mud, dirt, and debris, and once that muck gets stuck to your shoes, those germs can thrive in the treads. Keep a clean doormat outside every entrance to your home, and take off your shoes as soon as you enter the house. Go the extra mile and wash the soles of your shoes regularly with hot, soapy water.

    Related: 14 Ultrafunctional Ideas to Steal for Your Entryway


  3. Freshen the Phone

    Clean germs off of phones

    Another hidden hotbed of germ activity is one you frequently hold to your face—the phone. If a flu sufferer has touched, sneezed, or coughed on your phone, the next person to pick up the receiver could become infected. That's just one reason why it is important to clean your phones frequently with antiviral wipes or sprays. Make it a habit to wipe off the phone every time you answer or hang up.

    Related: 9 Brilliant Cleaning Hacks Everyone Should Know


  4. Detox Your Desk

    Disinfect household surfaces

    Everyday surfaces like countertops, desks, and tabletops are hubs of activity, and as a result they are commonly contaminated with bacteria and viruses. Indeed, some health experts say that your home desk can contain up to 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat! To prevent those bad bugs from getting transferred to your hands, wipe down household surfaces often and be particularly conscientious about disinfecting any surfaces where food is prepped or served.

    Related: 10 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Kitchen Ever


  5. Decontaminate the Kitchen

    Cleaning germs in the kitchen

    Stovetops, cutting boards, sinks, faucets, dishcloths, and sponges are all breeding grounds for germs. Wipe down kitchen surfaces daily, and run cutting boards and sponges through a sanitizing cycle on the dishwasher to eliminate contamination. Alternatively, you can microwave sponges to bust bugs—one minute on high should do the trick. Replace used kitchen towels and dishcloths with fresh ones daily.

    Related: 10 Extras to DIY for Your Kitchen


  6. Stop Dragging Germs Around

    Keeping germs out of your cleaning supplies

    Dust rags, mops and other cleaning tools may just be spreading germs around your house instead of eliminating them. If you don't sanitize and disinfect your mops and other cleaning tools between uses, you may be giving germs and viruses a free ride throughout your home. Wash all cleaning gear in hot, soapy water after use; a drop or two of bleach will do for disinfecting. You may also want to switch to disposable cleaning cloths during the height of flu season.

    Related: 8 Cleaning Mistakes Everyone Makes


  7. Launder Your Linens

    How often to wash your linens

    Your washer and dryer can be powerful allies in the war on germs. Wash bed linens, towels, and rugs frequently in hot water to keep bacteria at bay. If you’re in the market for new appliances, maximize the cleaning power of your laundry room arsenal by looking for models whose ability to sanitize clothing has been certified by NSF International. 

    Related: 8 "Zero Dollar" Laundry Room Hacks


  8. Consider Copper

    Copper is antibacterial

    If you are looking to invest in a sink or countertop that is both beautiful and antibacterial, consider copper. Not only does copper create a warm ambience, but it also kills bacteria. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that copper and copper alloys, including brass and bronze, are proven bacteria busters, and research suggests that copper may be effective against viruses as well.

    Related: 9 Ways to Make Your Old Bathroom New Again


  9. Set a Trap

    Air filtration system to trap germs

    Whole-home air filtration can help reduce the spread of bacteria, pollen, mold spores, and any viruses that may be attached to a larger host. Modern air purifiers are designed to remove up to 99 percent of airborne particles and can help the whole family breathe easier. For an added punch of purification, consider installing an ultraviolet (UV) component to your system.

    Related: 15 Remarkably Easy Ways to Create a Dust-Free Home


  10. Humidify Your Home

    Household humidity in winter

    The moisture that a cold- or warm-mist humidifier adds to the air can help deter the spread of cold and flu viruses. Air that is in a healthy humidity range—that is, 40 to 50 percent relative humidity year-round (slightly lower in colder months)—also creates a more comfortable home environment and helps prevent your nasal passages from drying out.

    Related: 6 Steps to a Cozy Winter Home


  11. Grab a Tissue

    Keep tissue boxes around the house

    Keep tissue boxes close at hand throughout your home. A single sneeze can spray cold and flu germs up to six feet, so it is important to achoo into a tissue, and then throw it away. If a tissue isn’t readily available, sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

    Related: 12 Household Items It’s Okay to Hoard


  12. Don't Miss!


    There's no shame in asking for (or hiring) help. In fact, with some humdrum home maintenance tasks, doing it yourself doesn't do you any good. Read on!