The dreaded winter flu can be enough to pull the wind out of anyone’s sails. Coughs, runny noses, fevers & night sweats – these are the hallmarks of the cold and flu season. Your first line of defence is the flu vaccine. There are, however, some simple strategies to protect your family’s health and keep those nasty germs away.
Many different viruses love winter; causing colds, gastroenteritis and influenza, and some can survive on surfaces for up to several days! Can these lingering germs reinfect other members of your family, visitors and friends? How can you protect your family’s health if you happen to bring these nasty bugs into your home or office?
The first point to note is that it is not as bad as it seems. In general, viruses survive for longer on water-resistant, nonporous surfaces like stainless steel and plastics than on porous surfaces such as fabrics and carpets. Although viruses can survive on surfaces for several days, their ability to cause an infection reduces rapidly, and they don’t often persist longer than 24 hours.
Disinfect hard surfaces.
Disinfectant sprays and cleaning products that are designed to kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces can be beneficial during the winter flu season. Read the label and follow directions on any cleaning product and disinfectants you choose to apply. These products will destroy particles that have landed on the surfaces, floors and doorknobs. However, be cautious. Some of the ingredients in these sprays may cause discolouration to carpets, rugs and upholstery, so you need to act with caution. They are not a complete solution for every surface.
Open up – Let in some fresh air.
Spending significant time indoors during the winter months, with homes and offices shut up from the colder weather can provide the perfect breeding ground for viruses. Disperse airborne allergens and bacteria by opening your windows to allow fresh air to enter.
Increase the humidity.
Low levels of humidity can contribute to a virus’s ability to survive. If you have access to a humidifier, this brilliant device can not only help you sleep better when you are congested, but the additional humidity can decrease the ability of the virus to survive in the air.
Do you have an air purifier in the house?
Those with aggravated allergies will know too well the benefits of an air purification system. Air purifiers can remove the smallest microbes in the air, reducing harmful airborne germs that not only include cold and flu viruses but also dust, pollen, mould spores, pet dander and smoke particles. If you have an air purifier in the bottom of your cupboard, winter may be the perfect season to get it working again.
Add some heat to your laundry.
If the worst happens and you catch a winter illness, you may confine yourself to a day of rest. Your bedding, pillowcases and mattresses will require a thorough clean. You should wash linen, towels and clothes with household detergent in hot water, where possible, and tumble dry on a warm/hot setting. Check the label on your pillows and cushions too; you may be able to throw these in the tumble dryer.
Mattress cleaning will depend on the type of mattress you have. Check the label for any instructions, and consider the services of a professional mattress cleaning company once the illness is over. It may protect you and your loved ones from a secondary round of illness.
Vacuum carpets, rugs and hard floors weekly.
Your carpets and flooring can harbour unwanted germs, particularly in the winter months. By vacuuming weekly, you can quickly reduce the level of bacteria, allergens, dust mites, and dirt that gets walked in over the colder months of the year.
At the end of the winter season, if your family has been hit particularly hard with gastroenteritis, colds and flu, then it might be the perfect time for a professional carpet and mattress dry clean. Your local Elite Carpet Dry Cleaning specialist can look after all your mattress, carpet and upholstery needs.
While viruses and bacteria can be pretty adaptable, your cleaning schedule can minimise their ability to spread illness through the family. Keep in mind the above tips and keep your home, and your family, healthy this winter.