Staying cold- and flu-free this season comes down to a few simple tactics: First, get a flu shot. Second, steer clear of co-workers who hit the office sniffling and coughing. And third, know the places where viruses and bacteria tend to hang out and how to properly clean these things—so you can drastically reduce your odds of accidentally buying yourself a week in bed with body aches and a fever.
1. A Shared Computer
Anything that gets a lot of direct contact with hands and fingers tends to have a scarily high concentration of germs, and all it takes for you to contract something is touching the mouse or keyboard and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Even if it’s only used occasionally by one or two people in your household, wipe it down before each use with an alcohol-based towelette designed for cleaning electronics.
2. The Refrigerator Door
Whether it’s in your home or the one in the office break room, this handle gets a lot of play all day. And if there are even microscopic bits of food on it, bacteria and viruses can feed and multiply. Once a week (or daily if someone in your household is sick), rub a disinfectant wipe up and down the entire length of it, especially in any tiny grooves.
3. The Inside of Your Car
Run a disinfectant wipe along your dashboard weekly, which accumulates germs thanks to the heater or AC blowing them there. If you have a child car seat, wipe that down, too, because kids are always sick and touching various parts of it.
4. Your Remote Control
You’ve heard reports that these are crawling with germs in hotels. But even in your own house, it’s one of the germiest surface. Everyone touches it all the time, especially when they’re eating, and that leads to bacteria and virus growth. Give it a wipedown weekly with an alcohol-based electronics cleanser.
5. Your Purse
Not only are you constantly touching the handle or strap, but you end up leaving it on a dirty restroom floor or store counter more than you think, and these areas have huge germ traffic. When you bring your bag into your house, you risk spreading anything you’ve picked up to yourself or family members. Spray or wipe it daily (or whenever you use it) with a fabric-safe sanitizing spray and paper towel, and hang it on a hook when you’re home so microbes can’t be tracked through the rest of the house.
6. Your Cell Phone
Considering all the handling it gets via germy, food-laden hands and fingers, and the fact that food helps bugs thrive, it’s a miracle this device doesn’t actually grow mold. It’s begging for a weekly cleansing with an alcohol-based cleaner meant for digital devices.