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Quick, easy tips to sick-proof your home for cold and flu season

We are heading into fall, which means we are also heading into yet another cold and flu season. But don't just cross your fingers and hope you don't pick up a bug. Shape magazine’s Bahar Takhtehchian stopped by Studio 1A with simple solutions for combating germs in your home — room by room — and protecting your family from getting sick. 

Entryway

Sanitize doorknobs and switches

Doorknobs and switches should be the first thing that gets sanitized in each room as it’s a spot that everyone’s fingers touch. Start wiping these down with a disinfectant wipe at least once a week, using a separate wipe for the doorknobs and the switches. If one of your kids or family members gets sick, start cleaning these spots every day. 

Consider copper

If you are moving or installing new knobs, consider investing in copper products. Copper is naturally antimicrobial and bacteria often dies within hours of being on copper’s surface. Copper is also one of the big home décor trends of the year, so it will help your family stay healthy and score your room points in the style department.

Kitchen

Swap your sponge

Your kitchen sponge is the number one source of germs in most homes. It often stays moist, making it a dream breeding ground for bacteria, and you may be unknowingly spreading more germs by wiping those sponges on your dishware and countertops.

Make sure to rinse your sponge in hot water after every use and ring it out to dry. Once a week, throw your sponge in the microwave for 60 seconds to help zap any lingering bacteria. And remember, you should ideally be replacing your sponge two to four times a month. 

Don’t forget the faucet

Another hot spot for germs in the kitchen is the faucet as it can often be a place where dirty dishrags hang to dry. Once a week, remove the faucet filter and soak it in white vinegar overnight. Vinegar is not only a natural cleaner, but it also is an acidic powerhouse that will help clean that bacteria right off. 

Bedroom

Manage your mattress

Old mattress coils and springs might not be helping your back and neck stay aligned, thus leading to back pain and other injuries. Plus, lumpy mattresses might be keeping you from getting a good night’s rest which only weakens your immune system further.

Make sure to be replacing your mattress every 7 to 10 years, as this is around the time that most mattresses stop functioning properly. Also keep an eye out for any tearing or lumpiness, or note if you wake up with aches and pains, as these are sure signs that your mattress needs to be swapped.  

To protect your mattress from allergens, use a dust mite protector and a mattress cover to keep oil, sweat and allergens from building up. 

Protect the pillows

As far as how often to replace your pillows, that depends on the quality of the pillow itself (down pillows last longer than those made from synthetic fibers). But take note of how your pillow feels. If you are constantly fluffing it for support, or if it causes neck pain, you need a new pillow.

Do use a pillow protector and wash it frequently to keep the oils from your hair and face from staining the pillow and leaving odors behind. 

Bathroom

Soap suggestions

Regular soap pumps can harbor bacteria, so when it comes to washing your hands, opt for soap dispensers when it comes to washing your hands.

For the shower, you might want to consider using liquid soap as experts say that bar soap can harbor bacteria, including E. Coli.

Sterilize the shower drain

Shower drains can contain some pretty nasty germs, including staph and fecal matter. Be sure to use a bleach and water mixture — or a normal bathroom/tub/shower cleaner — to clean around and on the top of the drain once a week. 

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