Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff and is brought to you by Reckitt Benckiser.

When someone in your family has had a cold or the flu, do you scrub everything in sight and throw every item in the sick person's room into the laundry?

Give yourself a break.

"Parents will say, 'I bleached the house from top to bottom,' but I think that's overdoing it," says pediatrician Alanna Levine, MD, of Tappan, NY. "Focus on items that really matter: shared spaces and frequently touched surfaces."

How to Disinfect

Disinfecting should be part of your usual cleaning routine, whether or not anyone at home is sick.

Check the label to make sure the disinfectant works against the viruses you're targeting, such as cold and flu viruses, says Philip Geis, PhD. He is a microbiology professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville and consultant for many companies including Fortune 500.

When you use disinfectant sprays, paper towels are better than sponges, but disposable disinfectant wipes have an advantage.

"Sponges and dishcloths just tend to spread things around," says Chuck Gerba, PhD. He is a microbiology professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

"With paper towels, you spray, wipe, and remove [the disinfectant spray]. But when you use a disinfectant wipe, people wipe the surface and let it dry, which gives it more time to kill the organisms. It leaves some residual impact," Gerba says. Some of his past research was funded by Clorox.

7 Things to Disinfect

Think about the items you touch a lot. Things people share are more likely to spread germs, says Elizabeth Scott, PhD. She is co-director of Boston's Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community.

Focus on these items after someone has had a cold or the flu:

  1. Your phone. Eighty percent of phones in homes that have a child with the flu have the flu virus on them, according to Gerba's research. That can include cell phones and land lines. " Cold and flu viruses survive on them, anywhere from a few hours to a few days," Gerba says.
  2. The remote control. It's one of the most touched -- and least cleaned -- items in your house. "If a child sneezes into her hand and touches the remote, the germs can get on the remote," Levine says.
  3. The bathroom. Half of all bathroom faucets have cold and flu viruses when someone has a cold or flu, Gerba says. "Those tend to get contaminated because your hand goes right there." Give the sick person their own hand towel, to avoid spreading disease through a shared towel, Levine says. Don’t reuse when wiping (for instance, don’t wipe the toilet and then the sink).
  4. Tables. Kitchen tables, coffee tables, play-area tables, and night tables tend to host cold and flu viruses, because they're touched often and aren't wiped down enough, Gerba says.
  5. Computers. Check the maker's instructions before cleaning. You may be able to wipe keyboards or screens with an alcohol wipe or a paper towel sprayed with disinfectant.
  6. Stuffed animals. If possible, toss Teddy in the laundry. If it's not washable, keep it away from everyone for a few days to let viruses on its surface die.
  7. Sheets, blankets, towels. "These should be washed at high temperature with a color-safe bleach detergent," Scott says. Wash your hands after handling them.

Also, everyone in your home should wash their hands more often when someone is sick. Soap and water or hand sanitizers work well, Gerba says.

All About the Flu

How long you're contagious and other flu facts.

View More

Is it a cold or the flu?

Test your knowledge.

View More