Preventing the spread of colds and flu will make your life easier.

Mama said, use a kleenex when you sneeze!

When the school year begins, maintaining a clean and healthy home becomes harder. Mornings return to that more familiar, hectic pace. Keeping your kids healthy allows them enjoy the first day of school, outdoor activities, and the holidays. You too!

Some ways to ward off illness: You can’t control what your child is exposed to at school or away from home, but you can control your home’s environment. Keep your house clean and improve your family’s chances of staying healthy with these easy tips.

1. Wash your hands. Again as you were growing up. But this classic tip is as relevant today as it was back then. Did you know washing your hands can reduce your risk of respiratory infections by 16% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? We place our hands in bacteria-filled areas every day, especially as children, and when we then touch our faces, the risk of spreading bacteria increases. Washing your hands for just 20 seconds dramatically reduces this risk, and making hand sanitizer available is also a great way to ward off bacteria.

2. Disinfect your home. You can take a more proactive approach by applying a disinfectant to commonly used surfaces in your home. Dwell time is the length of time it takes to kill germs, as much as 10 minutes to sanitize a space. Keep the time in mind, or look for a formula designed to disinfect quickly.

3. Target common areas. On busy days, you don’t have the time to clean your home as often as you’d like. So how can you maximize your time and reduce your family’s risk of getting sick? Target common surfaces and make them the focus of your cleaning and sanitizing efforts. While all surfaces have bacteria, cleaning efforts should focus on commonly used items, including remote controls, door knobs and kitchen counters. The computer mouse and keyboard too! Dirty sponges, meanwhile, can make a bacteria breeding ground worse, cross-contaminating your countertops when you think you are cleaning. Ditch the sponge and use paper towels and disinfectant for a quick, efficient solution.

4. Leave your shoes at the door. That alone can reduce your exposure to allergens, toxins, pesticides and dust, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It also keeps floors cleaner and reduces the wear and tear on carpets or rugs. The carpet cleaning professionals estimate 85 percent of all dirt tracked into homes comes in on our shoes and the feet of our pets.

5. Sneeze appropriately. Teaching your children the proper way to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze is a simple, effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Medical experts say coughing or sneezing into a tissue or towel is preferred, while using the crook of your elbow is the second choice. Coughing or sneezing into a person’s hands should be a last resort, and children who do should wash their hands immediately afterward. This will prevent germs and bacteria from spreading to door knobs and other surfaces the child touches. Consider keeping a few wipes in your car or purse.