Did you know that the surface of a desk (or your home office space) has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat?

Flu season has already begun, but has not reached its peak yet. December-February are considered those deadly months where it seems as if everyone around you is sneezing or gulping down phlegm wads.

It's important to keep your house germ-free, especially if you have children, because we all know that the little ones get sick first. Then, it's a trickling effect, and it's only a matter of time before the whole family has the sniffles ... or worse.

Even though you may think your home is spotless, it isn't. Bacteria can survive on basically every surface, and it is impossible to get rid of all germs, but easy, daily tasks can help to decrease your chances of getting sick (but before you start raiding the cabinets and dousing yourself with bleach, it helps to be aware that not all bacteria are harmful. Some studies have proven that the microscopic organisms can actually benefit your immune system).

Here are some tips to de-germify your home and keep your loved ones healthy:

1.  Ditch the kitchen sponge after a couple of weeks. Germs hibernate inside and spread across your "clean" dinnerware. If you can't part with it, microwave it for one minute or place it inside of the dishwasher.

2.  Wipe down frequently-touched appliances/gadgets: remote controls, telephones, children's toys and doorknobs (remote controls have the most germs, especially in hotels and hospitals).

3.  Do not use dish/dust rags or mops - they simply circulate the germs.

4.  Use common household cleaners to disinfect: Pine Sol, Clorox, Lysol products. Disposable wipes are a great resource for quick and efficient surface cleaning.

5.  Utilize your appliances as much as possible (dryers, dishwashers, washing machines).

6.  While prepping food, wash your cutting board properly. Plastic cutting boards must be put in the dishwasher (bacteria linger in the grooves from the knife). Wooden cutting boards can be washed by hand. It is best to purchase one made of closely-grained woods, such as maple. To be extra cautious, you can have two cutting boards and designate one for raw meats and the other for vegetables, etc.

7.  Vacuum weekly to eliminate dust mites, pet dander, mold and other allergens.  

8.  Wash bedding, linens and drapery in hot water - germs like to be cozy, too. Use plastic zip covers for extra protection. After all, you're never sleeping alone. Did you know that dust mites produce waste and lay eggs (Gross)? Vacuum your mattress, if it is uncovered.

9.  Replace your toothbrush, especially after being sick. After brushing, always rinse your brush with hot water.

10.  Clean shower walls, tub, head, curtains, etc. Mold and mildew live here.

11.  Transfer laundry to the dryer quickly so germs do not multiply. Run a cycle of water and bleach without any clothing to clean washing machine.

12.  Take your shoes off before walking around inside - leave them outside.

Oh, and of course, as your parents always told you to do, wash your hands frequently! Or, the best way to prevent bringing germs into your home is to just avoid everyone - just kidding!