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Germy Faucet Handles

Dirty hands are always touching kitchen and bathroom faucet handles -- and cold and flu viruses may hitch a ride. Plus, those areas are hotspots for yeast, mold, and bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Wipe down faucet handles daily with disinfectant spray or wipes.

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toothbrush holder
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Tainted Toothbrush Holders

One study found these can be one of the germiest spots in your home. As a general rule, put them in the dishwasher or hand-wash them with hot, soapy water once or twice a week. And if someone in your house is sick, keep their toothbrush separate from everyone else’s. If you touch something with cold or flu germs and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, you could be next.

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kids playing with toys
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Grimy Plastic Toys

Kids can get up to eight colds a year, and those germs can easily spread to their stuff. Clean toys at the end of each month and when they might be dirtier than usual (like after your kid is sick). You can kill many bacteria and viruses on hard plastic toys by washing them with soap and warm water. To really sanitize them, wipe them down with a mix of 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 quart of water, then let them air dry.

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woman holding tablet
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Teeming Touch Screens

That smartphone or tablet you’re always swiping and tapping? Viruses can easily transfer from the glass of the screen to your fingertips, So it’s smart to clean your devices, especially during cold and flu season. You can buy special wipes or check the instructions for the best way to clean the screen. There are also devices that use UV light to disinfect your gadgets.

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tv remote
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Tainted TV Remotes

Does cleaning the clicker make it onto your chore list? Chances are it’s one of the most touched and least cleaned items in your house. Plus, cold and flu germs tend to live longest on plastic and other hard surfaces. To clean it, first clear out debris with a dry toothbrush. Then use a cotton swab or cotton ball dipped in mild cleaner (and squeezed nearly dry) to disinfect. You can use the same method on computer keyboards.

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people working at desk
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Dirty Desks

Offices can harbor many kinds of germs. People pick them up at home, on the bus, or dropping kids off at school, then bring them to work. It can’t hurt to wipe down your workspace regularly, especially when colds and the flu are going around. Those viruses can live on hard surfaces up to 8 hours. That’s a full workday.

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person washing hands
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Seriously, Wash Your Hands

Even if you clean everything around you, washing your hands is still one of the surest ways you can lower your chances of getting a cold or the flu. But you have to do it right: Rub your hands together with soap for at least 20 seconds before you rinse -- don't forget the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. When you can’t get to a sink, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/02/2022 Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 02, 2022


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National Safety Foundation: “2011 NSF International Household Germ Study.”

American Dental Association: “Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storing, and Replacement.”

CDC: “Preventing Seasonal Flu Illness,” “Show Me the Science: How to Wash Your Hands,” “Show Me the Science: When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer.”

Fisher-Price: “What’s the Best Way to Clean Baby Toys?”

Julian, TR. “Virus transfer between fingerpads and fomites,” Journal of Applied Microbiology. 

Hewitt, K. “Office Space Bacterial Abundance and Diversity in Three Metropolitan Areas,” PLOS One.

Mayo Clinic: “How long to cold and flu germs stay alive after infected people cough or sneeze?” “Common Cold.”

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 02, 2022

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


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