9 Places Flu Germs Live You Might Not Always Remember To Clean
There are certain surfaces you pretty much know to avoid during flu season. Or, if you can't avoid them, you know to wash your hands right after touching them. The biggies are usually door knobs, public transportation poles, hand-rails, light switches, and the like. But you might not have realized you *also* need to sanitize these nine unexpected places the flu virus can live to stay healthy this flu season.
Droplets that contain the flu virus can be infectious for several hours depending on what surface they fall on, according to Mayo Clinic. In fact, the flu virus can live up to 48 hours on hard surfaces, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Luckily, the CDC says you can slow the spread of the flu with simple routine cleaning with everyday household cleaning products that contain chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents, iodine-based antiseptics, and alcohols.
“To disinfect a surface," pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann told the TODAY Show, you need to "wipe so that the surface remains visibly wet for four minutes and then let it dry.” Altman also says to be careful not to reinfect a surface by re-using cleaning cloths or mop-heads, according to the TODAY Show. Once you've used them in one area, says the TODAY Show, sanitize them before you use them again. Just make sure you add these nine surfaces to your list of spots to sanitize this flu season.
1. Your Smartphone
Chances are you're almost never without your smartphone. That means you've set your phone down on all kinds of surfaces, like the coffee shop table, your friend's car seat, and even the bathroom sink. And all those surfaces are hot spots for germs, according to Geisinger Health, including the flu. Wipe it down with a disinfecting cloth a few times a week during flu season.
2. The Microwave Handle
You probably don't think to wash your hands before touching the microwave handle, especially since the food items you place inside are typically inside containers. But The Conversation says the microwave handle is a high-touch surface in your home that could become a hotbed for the flu virus if you don't disinfect it regularly.
3. The Handle On The Office Coffee Pot
Avoiding the flu at work can be pretty challenging, Quentin Fottrell wrote for MarketWatch. It's one thing to keep your distance from sick coworkers, but did you realize you're still sharing the same coffee pot? Everyone has a right to their hot beverages, so just make sure you wash your hands after getting your coffee or hot water to reduce your chance of catching the flu.
4. Your Car's Steering Wheel
Most people don't risk getting into an accident by carefully covering a cough or sneeze while driving, Dr. Donald Bucklin wrote for U.S. Health Works. And what if someone else drives your car, and they cough or sneeze on your steering wheel? The steering wheel on your vehicle might be one the of the last places you think to sanitize, but it could be a host to all kinds of viruses and bacteria.
5. The TV Remote Control
Whether it's your home remote control or one at a hotel room, the TV remote control been touched by lots of hands, says Geisinger Health. If it's your home remote, make sure you disinfect it every now and again. If you're traveling, try to remember to bring some disinfectant wipes with you so you can wipe the hotel remote down before using it.
6. Your Refrigerator Handle
Like your microwave handle, your refrigerator handle is another high-touch surface in your house that can be a hotbed for the flu virus, according to The Conversation. Make sure to disinfect that baby while you're hitting up the other surfaces in your kitchen.
7. The Kitchen Sink
You might think your kitchen sink is free of viruses, but when was the last time you did more than just wash dishes in it or give it a cursory wipe-down? According to Geisinger Health, food leftovers and other particles can feed germs, so make sure you regularly disinfect your sink, too.
8. Your Salt And Pepper Shakers
When you think about the surfaces that need to get disinfected, salt and pepper shakers probably aren't at the top of that list. But Fottrell says the University of Virginia did a really small study that found salt and a pepper shakers are super common surface to test positive for viruses. Make sure to disinfect those on the regular as well.
9. Your Credit Card
Your credit card gets passed from person to person when you shop but never gets sanitized, not even during flu season, according to Dr. Bucklin. And then everyone uses the same keypad to type in their information to finish their transactions, says Dr. Bucklin, which also rarely (if ever) gets sanitized. Needless to say, try not to touch your face while shopping, and wash your hands when you get home.
Hearing about all the other places viruses might be lurking might make the world seem a little less pleasant, but think of it this way: this is just extra knowledge to help you enjoy the world around you way better than you did before. Armed with this extra info, you'll be a little less likely to catch the flu this season, and that's worth the ick factor of realizing just how gross your credit card probably is.