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Clean these 5 things to protect yourself against the flu

Keeping germs away requires more than just washing your hands. But that's crucial too.

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Say hello to flu season. If there's not someone at your office who's already fallen prey to the flu yet, just you wait. As more people get winter colds, your risk of picking up a bug or virus starts to climb, especially since we spend more time inside breathing warm recirculated air.

Besides making us feel completely miserable, the flu can also be life-threatening. The first line of defense is to get a flu shot. The second? Keep you and your space clean.

Here are some simple routines to cut down your risk of getting sick.

First, wash your hands

Look, you already know that the outside world is grimy, especially if you commute on public transportation or work in an office. You come in contact with all sorts of germs everyday and bring them home with you. 

Even just sitting at your desk, you're exposed to 400 times more bacteria than what you'll find on a toilet seat. Gross, right?

You should already be washing your hands often, especially during flu season. Get in the habit of washing your hands as soon as you come home -- it will go a long way to keeping you healthy.

Disinfect the most touched spots

Light switches, door knobs, TV remotes, the refrigerator handle, your computer mouse. All of these high-traffic places in your home and office are touched several times a day and are likely teeming with germs.

Keep these areas clean by wiping them down with a disinfecting spray or cleaning wipe every day. Look for cleaning products that are explicitly designed to kill germs to keep viruses and bacteria at bay, like Clorox wipes or Lysol spray.

Wipe down overlooked surfaces

When was the last time you wiped down your coffee table or nightstand? These spots get dirty, too, but aren't cleaned as often.

Aim to clean them every few days during flu season, or more often if someone at home is actively sick. A disinfecting wipe is the easiest way, but always use something that's safe for your furniture's finish.

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Clean your phone

You've probably heard that cell phones can be far more germ-ridden than a toilet seat. We carry them everywhere and touch them constantly, so it's no wonder they get so gross.

Wipe down your phone at least weekly using a safe cleaner and microfiber cloth. Stay away from the harsh antibacterial cleaning wipes you would use at home. They can ruin the coatings on your phone's screen.

Instead, opt for a mix of water and rubbing alcohol or water and vinegar. Learn more about how to clean your phone here.

Wash your sheets and towels often

Are you washing your sheets and towels enough? Likely not. If you or someone else at home is sick, it's important to wash your linens in hot water every few days to get rid of germs. Even better, give the sick person their own hand towel for the bathroom so they are less likely to spread germs to everyone else.

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