When you've got a family, even a run-of-the-mill cold can be a lot of trouble. As it spreads from one person to the next in your family, that one crummy cold virus can disrupt your lives for weeks -- causing missed school, missed work, sleepless nights, and frayed tempers.
So when your child -- or your spouse -- comes home sniffling and coughing, how can you stop those cold germs from dragging the whole household down? Don't panic -- here are five tips that can help stop a cold from spreading.
Cold Prevention Tip 1: Wash Your Hands
You've heard it many times before, but washing your hands is the single most important way to stop the spread of colds. According to the CDC, about 80% of infectious diseases are spread by touch -- the cold germs get on the hands and from there into the eyes and mouth. Look at it this way: you can't keep cold germs out of your house. But if you keep everybody's hands clean, they'll be much less likely to get sick.
When you wash your hands, do it thoroughly. Use soap and water and scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds. When you're not near a sink, a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol is a good substitute.
Cold Prevention Tip 2: Cover Your Nose and Mouth
Most of us were raised to cover our mouths and noses with our hands when we sneezed or coughed. Instead, use the crook of your elbow -- or a tissue. That way, the cold germs won't get onto your hands and spread.
Cold Prevention Tip 3: Disinfect
Cold germs can live on surfaces for hours. Consider disinfecting areas like tabletops, doorknobs, remote controls, and toys. Use a disinfecting spray or wipe. Or make your own by mixing 1/4 cup bleach with 1 gallon of warm water. Don't make yourself crazy wiping down everything your sick preschooler touches -- there's no way to keep a household sterile.
Cold Prevention Tip 4: Go Disposable
Colds can be spread by shared towels and cups in the bathroom. When someone in the house is sick, consider switching to paper products for a week.