How to STOP the Flu: Clean, Disinfect and Sanitize

February 10, 2022
Man sick with thermometer in mouth next to header that reads "How to stop the flu"

Flu viruses are fragile but can live for up to two days. A routine and effective cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing can wipe them out—and also protect against the spread of COVID-19.

5% to 20% of the population gets the flu each year. The below infographic teaches you how to properly disinfect, the correct products to use, how a GPO can help and tips for preventing the spread of the flu in your facility.

Infographic showing steps to prevent the spread of flu

Who and what is at risk?

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu each year
  • Most surfaces exposed to the virus, like from an infected patient, can carry it

Clean, disinfect or sanitize?
These terms are often used interchangeably, however:

  • Cleaning physically removes germs, dirt and impurities using soap (or detergent) and water
  • Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill germs
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs to a safe level by either cleaning OR disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection

What do facilities need to know?

  • 48 hours: How long the flu can live on a surface and infect a person
  • Work with infection prevention personnel to develop protocols before the flu season
  • Internal protocols should guide the cleaning/disinfecting/sanitizing process
  • Wash hands often with soap and water
  • Hand sanitizers do not take the place of soap and water 

How often should facilities wipe down and clean surfaces?

  • Waiting rooms, exam rooms and equipment after an infected patient
  • Daily sanitize surfaces and high-touch objects like doorknobs, computer keyboards and furniture
  • Daily disinfect common areas such as bathrooms
  • Immediately clean visibly soiled surfaces and objects using gloves and standard precautions
  • Immediately remove any bodily fluids, then clean and disinfect the surface 

What common cleaning mistakes allow the flu to spread?

  • Following recommended guidelines
  • Having a protocol or not following it
  • Using the proper techniques or chemicals
  • Washing hands
  • Receiving the flu vaccine

What to buy from a group purchasing organization (GPO)

  • To kill germs: EPA-registered disinfectants
  • To kill the flu virus, products with:
    o    Chlorine
    o    Hydrogen peroxide
    o    Soap/detergent
    o    Iodine-based antiseptics
    o    Alcohol

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