As the official flu season begins, it’s important to find ways to keep illness at bay. While the impact of the flu can vary, there is no doubt that it places a substantial burden on the health of millions of people in the U.S. every year. The Centers for Disease Control has estimated that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 60.8 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010.

While It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like, your main concern is probably keeping illness away from you and your family. You’ve been doing everything you can to avoid catching an illness at the office, even when it’s spreading like wildfire, and you’re careful when you’re out and about too. But then it happens. Your child, your spouse, a roommate or someone else in your household comes down with the flu. Those germs can spread quickly, even before symptoms appear.

1. Sanitize All Frequently Touched Surfaces

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Flu viruses can live for up to eight hours on hard surfaces, which is why so many people get infected by touching things like germ-filled doorknobs and light switches. Spray them down regularly by combining one tablespoon of white vinegar to every 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Dry using paper towels rather than a sponge, which only serves to transfer more germs. If someone is sick at home, be sure to disinfect daily. It’s a good idea to do this with other places germs tend to accumulate as well, like faucet handles and countertops. For tough areas, including your sink, dip half a lemon in baking soda, and then scrub directly. Wipe down with the vinegar spray and then dry with a paper towel.

2. Cutting Boards

Cutting boards are breeding grounds for germs. While the question of whether wood or plastic is a better surface for them is more about food-borne pathogens than a flu virus, it’s worth noting that germs of any kind can live on either one. Still, the Food Safety Laboratory at the University of California at Davis leans toward the wood. Plastic cutting boards can go into the dishwasher, which is why many people like them, but when washing by hand, a knife-scarred plastic cutting board is going to be able to hold tightly onto any bacteria, while a wooden cutting board does not. Plastic boards must be washed in a dishwasher. For your wooden board, use the tough natural cleaning solution as noted above: dip half a lemon in baking soda, and then scrub directly. Wipe down with the vinegar spray and then dry with a paper towel.

3. Dining Room

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Wood furniture can be cleaned using the solution of two cups of olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Combine it in a spray bottle, and then spray the solution on the wood using a soft cloth and wipe clean. If your baseboards and walls have gotten grimy, dissolve a half cup of borax in a gallon hot water and then use it to wipe down those areas.

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