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  • Outsmart the Flu with 8 Healthy Home Habits

    These anti-germ strategies cover all the bases—right down to the air you breathe.

    Wash Hands

    Every winter we face off with that formidable respiratory foe known as influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu season peaks between December and March but can kick off as early as October and linger through May*. That’s a lot of time to spend on-guard.

    This year, you don’t have to be a viral victim. Go on the offensive to lower your risk of infection by practicing these smart, healthy habits at home.

    • Be obsessive about clean hands.

      This one’s a no-brainer. Each time you blow your nose or make contact with frequently handled objects (doorknobs, appliances, electronics) slather on some hand sanitizer or scrub with soap and warm or cold water for at least 20 seconds.

    • Set up multiple “sneeze stations.”

      Make sure everyone under your roof knows to cover coughs and sneeze into a tissue—and that used tissues go in the trash, not on the table, couch or floor. Strategically place boxes of tissues and small wastebaskets throughout your home. Empty bins daily, ideally while wearing rubber gloves and a surgical mask.

    • Maintain reasonable humidity levels.

      Unlike moisture-loving dust mites, the flu virus thrives in dry air. To help keep your indoor air in-check, aim for humidity levels above 40 percent**. Track levels with the help of an inexpensive hygrometer (humidity monitor).

    • Disinfect humidification appliances.

      Whether you use a humidifier or a dehumidifier to maintain optimal humidity levels, clean tanks and removable parts every three days with a 10 percent bleach or 50 percent vinegar solution. These tasks help prevent skin rashes and itchy eyes resulting from exposure to mold and mildew***.

    • Sanitize surfaces and household items.

      At least once a day, spritz and wipe down kitchen and bathroom countertops, sinks, fixtures, electronics and doorknobs with a 10 percent bleach or 50 percent vinegar solution.

    • Zap microbes with UV light.

      Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) can be a safe and effective way to disinfect the air when used properly****. Use a hand-held travel wand to disinfect keyboards, toothbrushes, doorknobs, sinks, etc.

    • Hot-wash linens frequently.

      Viruses can survive on fibrous materials for a long time*****, so regular washing is one way to help control their obnoxious numbers. Use detergent and the hottest water safe for the fabric you’re cleaning. If possible, tumble dry on a warm setting.

    • Get serious about air filtration

      Filtrete™ Healthy Living Air Filters feature exclusive 3-in-1 technology from 3M to pull in and trap dust, bacteria, germs, viruses and allergens from the air—and lets cleaner air flow back into the room. Change your filter at least every 90 days for best results.