Tis the season. No, not just for the holidays. The fall marks the start of flu season. Although it’s tricky to predict flu season’s peak (the CDC reports that it could fall anywhere between November and March), it’s no secret that the winter is a time for sickness. You can’t control everything, unfortunately. Your coworkers will come to the office ill. The flu will spread in your kids’ schools. But you can control your own home. Taking some steps to keep your home healthy this flu season can make all the difference.
Before you batten down the hatches and hole up for the winter, consider a more moderate approach. Making some small but meaningful changes to your house or apartment can make it easier to fend off the flu even as you lead your normal life. We’ve rounded up some tips and tricks to help you keep your home – and your family – in good health this flu season.
Encourage hand washing
It’s not rocket science. From the time we’re small kids, we’re told that washing our hands prevents the spread of germ and sickness. This is definitely not a season to skimp on sudsing up. Even though you can control how much you wash your own hands, you can only force your family members to scrub up so often. Instead of having to constantly remind people of the importance of this action, why not take a more subtle – but equally effective – approach?
In each bathroom, set up a nice hand washing station. Get good smelling soap and soft hand towels. Consider adding a moisturizer (winter is a time for dry skin, too), a scented candle and whatever other touches would amp up the pleasantness of the hand washing area. Essentially, your goal should be to make washing your hands such a nice experience that no one who visits your home would even think of skipping it.
The winter is not a time to skimp on cleaning. If you don’t already, make it a habit to disinfect your countertops, door knobs, light switches and cabinet handles or pulls every few days. Also, keep that washing machine busy. If sickness is going around your office or your kids’ school, wash sheets and towels more frequently than normal. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to include your dish towels. Ideally, you should be swapping them out for clean ones every other day or so.
Extend past the standard disinfecting tasks, too. Did you know that toothbrushes can be run through the dishwasher? Did you know you can microwave your sponges to kill bacteria? Look for the porous or soft areas of your home where germs could live and take steps to keep them sanitized. We’ve created a list of the nasty nine – key places you need to be cleaning – to help you keep your home healthy this flu season.
Set up your beds
We already mentioned that you should be washing your bedding on a regular basis, but don’t just throw it back on the bed. Create a cozy space where you’ll want to curl up. Sleep is one of your body’s biggest tools in combating illness. Getting enough shut-eye is absolutely critical if you want to stay healthy this flu season.
Do whatever it takes to get yourself and your family to bed at a time where you’ll all get enough sleep. If your daughter wants to add twinkle lights above her bed, do it. If you want an extra cozy throw to tempt yourself to unplug from your day earlier, get it. Sleep is one of your greatest allies this winter.
Make it easy to do right by your body this winter and you’re more likely to stay healthy. This means stocking your fridge and pantry with nutritious, whole food. Add a bowl of fruit to your kitchen counter to make it easy for you to grab fresh produce and give your body what it needs to fend off illness. Foods rich in antioxidants are especially important during flu season.
Similarly, make it simple to stay hydrated. Add water carafes or water bottles to everyone’s nightstands. If your family isn’t a big fan of plain water, start infusing it with fruit or herbs (lemon, mint, cucumber and strawberries are great options to start) to entice everyone to get the fluids their bodies need to stay healthy.
Use these tips to keep yourself, your family and your home healthy this flu season. Do you have any other recommendations to combat the flu season? Let us know in the comments.