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How to keep your home flu-free in the colder months

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As the weather becomes colder, many will be focusing their attention on preparing for winter and staying germ-free during the flu season. Apart from getting vaccinated from the flu virus and the time-honoured tactic of washing hands well and often, there are other ways that homeowners can keep their home from serving as a breeding ground for colds and flu.

Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, provides homeowners with a few simples tips to keep them healthy during the colder seasons:

Change your fixtures

There are certain metals such as copper, aluminium, lead, iron and silver that are all antimicrobial, which means that they actively kill bacteria. Goslett says that of all the metals, brass is the most effective at killing germs. Considering that doorknobs are a common gathering place for germs and bacteria, changing to brass ones will not only add to the look of the home, but also act as an effective strategy for keeping the home flu-free.

Pay attention to germ hot spots

brass door handles resizeAside from door handles, there are several other germ hot spots throughout the home such as the kitchen sink, counter tops, phones, the remote controls, the fridge door, toilet handles, children’s toys and anything else that is frequently used by those living in the home. The influenza virus spreads through touching something that a person with the virus has been in contact with or sneezed on, so it is vital that these objects are cleaned regularly with some kind of antibacterial solution or wipe. Keeping antibacterial wipes in several locations throughout the home will increase the likelihood of the occupants using them.

Place items in the washer

Although wiping an item down is an effective way of cleaning it, placing it in the dishwasher is a method that is far more effective and much more efficient at killing germs. This is a great way to frequently disinfect children’s toys and dog toys. Not all items will be dishwasher safe, however it is possible to Google which items can be put in the dishwasher.

Replace or wash sponges and cleaning tools regularly

How often something gets cleaned will be meaningless if the sponge, mop or rag used to clean it with is filthy. Sponges, mops and clothes hold onto a host of germs so should either be washed or replaced on a regular basis. Unless sanitised between uses, a dirty mop will simply spread the germs faster. Some of the tidiest homes could have the highest number of germs because the cleaning tools used have not been cleaned between uses. Placing a sponge in the microwave for two minutes or running it through a dishwasher cycle will help to kill any festering colonies of germs between uses.


Viruses thrive in dry air. Scientific research has shown that humidity can make it much harder for viruses to multiple. Studies showed that homes that kept humidity levels at between 40% and 60% had far less airborne flu viruses floating around. A humidifier can reduce airborne flu virus particles by as much as 30%, but it is important to remember that a humidifier can also be a breeding ground for bacteria if not cleaned regularly.

humidifier resizeWash linens often

Ideally bed linens should be washed at least once a week to get rid of any lingering germs in the bedroom. Germs can build up on blankets and sheets, affecting home occupants while they sleep. It is also advisable to frequently wash other linens used around the home as well, such as throws and towels.

“While these tips will not completely eradicate the risk of the home’s occupants getting a cold or the flu, they will significantly reduce the chances. Being vigilant and taking the necessary precautions will assist in keeping all those in the home healthy during the flu season,” he says.


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