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4 Germ-Fighting Tips

Hand washing is The Number One Way to outsmart cold and flu bugs -- but it's not the only way. With these easy tips in your germ-fighting arsenal, those bugs don't stand a chance.

1. Make bubbles. You've probably heard about having your kid sing "Happy Birthday" twice so he washes long enough, and that's good. But it's the friction that really matters. So teach him to scrub hard enough to whip up some suds, then send those germs down the drain.

2. Sanitize smartly. In a pinch, squeeze on the hand sanitizer, but read the label carefully before you choose one. An effective hand sani- tizer needs to have at least 60 percent alcohol to kill bugs, says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University.

3. Spot-clean. No need to make everything in the house look clean all the time. "It's not dirt that you are looking for, it's germs," says Tierno. "Paying attention to the high-traffic areas where germs linger, like countertops, phones, and doorknobs, is more important."

4. Wipe on. Love wipes? A new study discovered that wipes used in hospitals transferred bacteria from one sur-face to the next. The easy fix? Use each wipe on only one surface, and then toss it.

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