The Coronavirus has got us all wondering what we can do to stay healthy this winter – and while it's obviously a worrying virus, it's just one of many that's doing the rounds at the moment. So, if you're keen on avoiding catching a virus, cold or flu (and who wouldn't be?), what's the key?
While changing some simple habits will help stop the spread, cleaning your home or work space is really, really important, too. Making both more hygienic will make you less vulnerable to colds and flu, and there is nothing like an overheated, stuffy, and dusty home or office for allowing harmful bacteria to flourish. Read on to find out more – and visit our cleaning hub page for more cleaning hacks.
1. Wash your hands
No one can have escaped this piece of advice: it's the first line of defence against catching Coronavirus – and other viruses and cold germs. The current advice is to wash them with soap for two rounds of 'happy birthday', making sure you do between your fingers, then back of your hands and up to your wrists. We do under our nails, too, while we're there. And don't use a towel that everyone else uses to dry them – air drying is better.
2. Got a cold or suspect Coronavirus? Self-isolate
YOU might think you're being a selfless martyr struggling into work when you're unwell, but no one on public transport or in the office is going to thank you for passing it on. 'Self-isolating' – you've heard it on the news, read about it in the papers. Stay in.
And when you're in, try to stay in one room that the rest of the family can avoid so that the chances of passing it on are reduced.
3. Swap handkerchiefs for tissues
Still using handkerchiefs? Don't – they're a big bundle of portable virus germs. Please swap them for disposable tissues. Don't have either to hand and feel a sneeze coming on? The advice is to sneeze into the crook of your arm or into your hands if there's somewhere to wash them immediately. Gross, we know, but better than sneezing out into a room full of people.
4. Carry hand sanitiser
Nowhere to wash your hands? Worried that everyone else is sneezing then not washing their hands? Keeping your hands clean will help you reduce your chance of catching a virus – and of passing it on (think: you're at work, you make tea for the team... and each mug handle is imprinted with the germs on your hands...). To work, hand sanitiser needs to be at least 60% alcohol. It's not easy to get hold of, we know, but there are still stocks.
5. Clean items you use with your hands, all the time
This includes items such as the TV remote, light switches, door handles, your mobile phone, keyboard, and the desk in your office, all which are dirtier than your toilet seat (we didn't just make this up, honest). These items are also fuller of harmful bacteria than your outerwear such as coats and gloves (which, contrary to popular belief, are not that dirty and don't need frequent cleaning). The reason? Phone and remotes come in regular contact with people's hands, which you should also wash all the time, with soap, especially if someone in the house has a cold.
How often? Every week.
Find more places that never get cleaned but should in our guide.
6. Damp clean all radiators and vents
This can't be emphasised enough: dusty radiators exacerbate health problems such as allergies and asthma, as well as contributing to colds (because overly warm and humid air can be as bad for you as cold air). Always wipe your radiators with a damp cloth, never just dust with a duster, which won't catch the dust like a damp cloth will.
How often? You should do this before turning on your radiators for the first time in the autumn, and then again before Christmas.
7. Clean high traffic areas such as hallways and kitchens
The hallway needs extra attention when people have colds: it's the last place you touch everything with unwashed hands. So, wipe all door knobs, vacuum or mop the floors and stairs, coat hooks, and even the places where you regularly drop your keys.
How often? Repeat this weekly.
8. Wash all bedding, including pillows and toppers
Got a cold or virus? Change your bedding regularly and you'll not only be hot washing away germs, you'll feel better in crisp new linen, too.
Allergy sufferer? Over the winter, your bedding would've absorbed a lot of sweat and dead skin cells. Sounds gross, but it's true, and if you don't wash your bedding in the lead up to spring, you are inviting dust mites to breed in your bedding in their millions.
The result? Skin rashes and allergies, nasal congestion, and poor quality sleep. So, pop your bedding in a warm or hot wash. If your washing machine is not big enough, do it at the launderette.
How often? Repeat now and March/April. And always wash all the summer bedding before storing it away for the winter. And if someone has flu or a cold, it's really worth doubling your efforts. Find out how to wash pillows in our guide.