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It's the time of year again when colds and flu start making their annual appearance to make life miserable for the whole household. Here are a few tips on reducing ilnesses in your family by keeping the house as germ-free as can be.

 

As the official influenza season begins it's important to find ways to keep winter's ever-present illness at bay. That's especially true this year, as one in every 20 outpatient doctor visits will be for the flu.

But dealing with the virus that causes the flu can be tricky. Health officials recommend getting a yearly flu vaccine, and they urge everyone to protect themselves with one time-honoured tactic: wash your hands, well and often. That may be the single best way to stop the disease in its tracks.

But in case you find yourself facing an encroaching onslaught of the illness though co-workers or school-age kids, here are a few strategies to make life as hard as possible for the flu - or any germs, for that matter - to take root in your house.

Watch out for germ hot spots

The sink, the telephone, children's toys, and door knobs are popular landing sites for virus and bacteria.

If someone is sick at home, disinfect daily, especially the remote control and the phone. Remote controls and countertops can be the germiest locale in the whole house.


Kill the kitchen sponge

Your kitchen sponge should be replaced every couple of weeks. If that runs counter to your frugal ways, you can microwave it for one minute or run it in the dishwasher to eliminate germs.

Examine product claims closely

There's a lot of goods that market themselves as 'anti-bacterial' on the label, and while these may have a small impact on keeping germ colonies to a minimum, don't put too much faith in these products. Some alternatives such as lemon juice, tea tree oil or lavender oil have properties that kill microbes when used on a regular basis. Modern technology can help do the disinfecting for you through powerful cleaning. If you're shopping for appliances, take a look at the latestĀ household appliances that offer silver nano cleaning and steam clean.

Make handwashing fun

There are at least six occasions each day when children should wash their hands.

Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently - before meals, after school, after they use the bathroom, after they sneeze.

Help them wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds - the time it takes to sing The Happy Birthday Song twice.

Pick your cutting board

While the question of whether wood or plastic is a cleaner surface for a cutting board is more about food-borne pathogens than about flu virus, it's worth noting that germs of any kind can live on either one. And food poisoning is as much an issue these days as the flu.

Plastic cutting boards can go right in the dishwasher, a virtue that's won favour among many germ slayers. But if you are washing by hand, a knife-scarred plastic cutting board holds onto bacteria, and wooden cutting boards do not. It is far better to wash plastic boards in a dishwasher, while wooden boards should be made of hard, closely-grained woods, or bamboo.

If all else fails, stock up on tissues and vitamin C and have plenty of books on hand for catch up reading!

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