Don't Fear Your Winter Gear

Hats, scarves and gloves are germyHats, scarves and gloves add some color to gray KC winters and keep you cozy and warm. They also attract unwanted visitors … germs.

Your winter wear makes the perfect hideout for respiratory bacteria and viruses like the common cold, flu, rotavirus and norovirus. And, as you travel from place to place all bundled up, you spread those germs to others. The flu virus can live on clothing for 2-3 days, and rotaviruses and noroviruses can cling to clothes for up to four weeks. Blech!

Keep Your Winter Gear Germ-free

Gloves. Think about how many public surfaces your hands touch in a day. ATM buttons, cell phones, shopping carts and doorknobs are just a few. Gloves keep your hands toasty warm, but they aren’t germ resistant. Avoid touching public surfaces with a gloved hand. Instead, take off your gloves. It’s easier to sanitize bare hands.

Tip: Wash your gloves at least once a week, more often if they are visibly dirty.

Scarves. Scarves do a great job of protecting your face and neck from Old Man Winter. They also collect coughs, sneezes and nose drips.

Tip: When you toss your gloves in the washer, add your scarf, too.

Hats and coat pockets. Many people tuck their gloves inside their hat for safekeeping when they come in from the cold. It’s the perfect place for germs to co-mingle. The same idea applies to coat pockets, where dirty tissues and gloves can co-exist in germy harmony.

Tip: You guessed it. Add your hat to the weekly wash load. Wash your coat with empty pockets turned inside out.

If your favorite gear requires special laundering, invest in some backup accessories so you have a spare set.

Other Tips

  • Let wet gear dry completely before putting it away.
  • Take your gloves off from back to front. Do not use your teeth.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on your gloves and after touching public surfaces with bare hands.

Clean gear doesn’t guarantee a germ-free winter. When the cold, flu and other minor illness get you down, visit a Meritas Health Express convenient care clinic.