You drink your juice and take your vitamins. But you may be overlooking some simple strategies that could stop you from catching a bug this year:
1. Using Hand Sanitizers No question about it: Hand washing gets rid of germs. Studies show scrubbing with soap and water for 15 seconds before eating and after using restrooms cuts the risk of infection ten fold! But when you can’t get to a sink, use an alcohol-based hand gel like Purell or Avant. They destroy up to 83% of germs in 10 seconds! “They’re so effective, the CDC recommends them,” notes Phillip Tierno, Ph.D., of the New York University Medical Center.
2. Sanitizing Your Cellphone Sanitizing your cell phone and your home phone. Your remote control and any other gadgets that are commonly shared. In a recent study, One in five cell phones tested positive for dangerous types of drug-resistant bacteria, says University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba. To de-germ shared devices, wipe them at least once a week with disinfecting wipes—not sprays or liquids, which might damage internal components.
3. Cleaning Your Shower Curtain Moisture-loving bacteria and mold breeds like wildfire inside damp plastic and fabric folds. A surprising University of Colorado study found millions of microbes on every inch of shower curtains, 80% of which were potentially harmful bugs that could become airborne and easily breathed! Eliminate the danger by tossing your shower curtain into the washing machine once a week, then hanging it back in the tub to dry.
4. Scrubbing Your Produce Rinse off all fruits and veggies, even thick-skinned types. Research shows the skins on produce can harbor E. coli, salmonella, and other microorganisms. “Use a scrub brush and running water to clean potatoes, carrots, and other sturdy produce, and soak more fragile foods, such as berries, in a bowl of water with a few tablespoons of lemon juice before rinsing and eating,” suggests Tierno, author of The Secret Life of Germs.
5. Wiping Down Your Desk Office workstations contain up to 400 times more bacteria than bathroom surfaces, says Gerba. The spot on your desk where you rest your hand can harbor up to 10 million bacteria! Keep disinfecting wipes handy, and give your desk, fax and copy machines a, swipe each day to protect yourself. That’s all it takes to cut bacteria levels by 99% or more within 24 hours.
6. Tossing Your Toothbrush Besides being a “trap” for airborne cold and flu viruses, microbiologists, say it can become contaminated with germs from other family members’ brushes. The simple fix: Stock up on an economical store brand so that you can change to a new meeting every month, suggests Gerba. TIP: Dip your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide once a week, then store it upright so it can air-dry. “It’s tough for germs to survive on dry surfaces—and peroxide quickly kills any bacteria and viruses that do,” Tierno says.
7. Shunning Restroom Doors If you’re in a public bathroom, be assured that bacteria are clinging to every surface, even the walls, Tierno says. Your best defense: Don’t touch anything once you’ve washed your hands. You can use paper towels to turn off the faucet and grab the door handle.