Stop the Spread of Viruses and Germs at Home

Door Knobs & Other Surfaces in the Home Can Carry GermsEDITOR’S NOTE: This article and video are updated from an earlier version that appeared on HelpingYouCare® October 9, 2011. They contain important health and prevention reminders which are particularly relevant as we currently face a widespread flu epidemic in the United States.

While most of us are concerned about the spread of germs outside the home, medical experts tell us not to forget to prevent the spread of germs right in our own homes.

According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), “Studies have shown that human influenza (flu) viruses generally can survive on surfaces between 2 and 8 hours.”

“Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk,” the CDC states among Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) posted on its website. In fact, “Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick,” the CDC states.

However, although less often, “a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.”

To stop the spread of germs in high traffic areas, frequently clean with soap and water (or at least use disinfectant wipes on) surfaces such as:

  • Refrigerator doors and handles
  • Remote controls
  • Phones
  • Counter tops
  • Door handles

And don’t forget to wash your dish sponges in the dishwasher, and wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water.

The CDC provides helpful reminders about when you should wash your hands and the right way to wash your hands:

“When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage”

“What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.”

Proper Hand Washing May Prevent 80% of All Infections, according to the CDC.

Watch a short video from the Cleveland Clinic with Dr. Kathryn Teng, about stopping the spread of viruses and germs at home »

More Information

See related HelpingYouCare® reports on:

CDC Advises on Flu Prevention; Reports on Flu Epidemic Sweeping Nation

FDA Tips For Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables

Beware Hand Sanitizers Making False Claims – FDA Issues Consumer Alert & Warning Letters to Four Sanitizer Companies

Proper Hand Washing May Prevent 80% of All Infections

See also, Everyday Preventive Actions That Can Help Fight Germs, Like Flu (PDF), published by the CDC.

For more information on lifestyle factors and actions you can take to promote wellness and prevent diseases, see the HelpingYouCare® resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:


Copyright © 2013 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare®. All rights reserved.


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