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Real Simple
February 07, 2018 1:15 pm

All of the telltale signs of cold and flu season are here—the hacking coughs and the sniffly noses seem to be following us everywhere we go. To keep you and your family healthy during this extra-germy season, there are certain areas it pays to keep sanitized. Spots that you tend to touch often (phones, doorknobs, computer keyboards) are all prime places to pick up extra bacteria, so tackle these areas first during your next cleaning spree.

Deep-Clean Your Germy Cell Phone

You touch your cell phone many times throughout the day, and you may even be holding it as you read this. With how often we reach for our phones, it’s no surprise that a 2012 study by the University of Arizona found that cell phones have more germs than toilet seats. Yuck factor aside, it means that our technology is a breeding ground for colds. To deep-clean your phone without risking water damage, follow our instructions from a pro. Keep your hands clean, wipe down the surface with an antibacterial microfiber cloth, and spray cleansers onto a cloth rather than directly on the screen to prevent damage.

Related article: The $7 Item That Will Completely Change How You Clean

Sanitize Your Keyboard

It’s full of nooks and crannies, and you likely click away at it for hours a day. Your computer keyboard is a germ collector, and all of those crevices make it difficult to keep clean. To clean it quickly, first put down the work for a minute and fully unplug it. Turn it upside down and use compressed air to remove any crumbs and dust. To disinfect, wipe the surface with a fast-drying cleanser made for tech devices, such as Wireless Wipes ($11; amazon.com).

Don’t Forget the Doorknobs

You may think that getting sick from germy doorknobs is an old wives’ tale, but according to Chuck Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, it’s very possible. Germs last longer on surfaces than you might think. To sanitize the doorknobs around your house (focus on high-traffic spots, like the bathroom door), cleanse them with a germ-destroying wipe, such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (from $11; amazon.com).

Clean the Kitchen Counter (and Faucets)

You likely try to keep your kitchen counter clean year-round, but it becomes particularly important during cold and flu season. Since this is the spot where family gathers, the counter and faucet gets touched often by germy hands. To keep this area bacteria-free, spritz porous stone (like granite) with a disinfecting spray. To unearth stuck-on gunk around the faucet, apply Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel Cleanser and let sit for three minutes before wiping away.

Disinfect Stuffed Animals and Blankets

If your little one has been sick, make sure their favorite furry companion isn’t holding onto their germs. Check the tag on stuffed animals to see if it can go in the washing machine, then place the toy inside a pillowcase secured with a twist tie. Use Woolite and tumble dry on a cool setting, recommends Hanna Hach of Hanna Bruce Bears & Teddy Hospital, in Lititz, Pennsylvania. While you’re at it, run your child’s favorite blanket through a wash cycle.

This article originally appeared in RealSimple.com.

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