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Inevitable things that happen every winter: Hot chocolate stains on the rug. Unexpected houseguests (from his side of the family). Germs spreading through your house like wildfire. But you can sidestep that last one this year if you start employing these five tips right away.

homemade juice
Twenty20

Whip Up Some Homemade Juice

Store-bought OJ is delish, no doubt. But that’s because it’s full of sugar, which can have a negative effect on your immune system. Buying fruit and making the juice yourself, on the other hand, is a germ’s worst nightmare—if you stick to the right fruits. Try mixing freshly squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice for a hit of vitamin C, then take it a step further and blend those with beetroot and carrots to reduce inflammation.

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Designate “Sick Zones” In Your House

Rather than holding your breath to avoid breathing in your loved one’s germy air (hey, we’re all guilty), cough and cold expert Alanna Levine, M.D., suggests designating “sick zones.” For example, limit anyone who is coughing and sneezing to one area of your home. “This will decrease the chance of spreading germs throughout the house,” says Dr. Levine. 

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sneezing
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Teach Kids to Sneeze Into Their Arms

Sneezes come on way too fast to go running for a tissue every time. So instead of scrambling and then launching germs everywhere, show your kiddos how to catch a sneeze in the crook of their arm. It’s basically a built-in shield that helps stop germs from spreading all over your house, and just as important, it shields you from the dirty looks you get when your kid sneezes on someone in public. Yikes.

girl sleeping with eye mask
Twenty20

Clock an Early Bedtime

One of the best ways to help a body fight off germs is getting enough rest. So take this as an opportunity to enforce an early bedtime for your children. Then, once they’re tucked in and sleeping, whether you go to bed early yourself or not is nobody’s business. (And yes, a little Netflix binge in the peace and quiet totally counts as rest in our book.)

eucalyptus
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Hang Eucalyptus In Your Shower

Hit up your local flower shop and ask for a bundle of fresh eucalyptus. Then tie it to your showerhead (just don’t block the water) or keep it on the edge of your tub. Squeeze a couple drops of eucalyptus essential oil onto your washcloth too. The spa-like atmosphere it creates while you take a steamy shower is heavenly and stress relieving, yes, but the real germ-fighting benefit comes from the plant’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. But we really like the spa part too.

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