The germs that cause the flu, colds and other airborne illnesses are around us every day, virtually everywhere we go. However, there are a few quick and easy tips you can use to lower your chances of contracting or spreading these diseases.

1. Wash Your Hands Frequently

Basic soap and water – either hot or cold will do – are all you need to effectively wash your hands to eliminate harmful bacteria. Wash your hands any time you come into contact with high-traffic public areas, like gas pumps, checkout counters, and door handles.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to use a special antimicrobial or antibacterial soap. It is the surfactants in regular soaps that “pop” the lipid bubble that surrounds the genetic material of viruses, spilling out their contents and inactivating the virus.

2. Stay Home If You Aren’t Feeling Well

This basic principle is a good one to follow any time you are feeling under the weather, as you can’t spread germs if you aren’t around others. Children who are feeling sick should be encouraged to stay home from school, sports, and other activities. Adults who aren’t feeling well should work from home if that’s an option and avoid social gatherings.

Besides, getting plenty of rest and taking it easy are essential to your feeling better. So try to resist the urge to get up and do something, letting your body relax, rest, and recover instead.

3. Don’t Share Personal Items at Home

If one person in the household isn’t feeling well, he or she should avoid sharing any personal items with other members of the family. This includes items like bathroom towels, drinking glasses, and lip balm.

4. Disinfect Surfaces

Disinfecting high-traffic surfaces in your home is especially important when one member of the family gets a bug and is trying to avoid spreading it to others in the home. Regularly disinfect areas like the bathroom sink, doorknobs, countertops, and light switches.

5. Keep a Healthy Lifestyle

Keeping a healthy lifestyle is one of the best things you can do to help your body ward off unfriendly germs that could cause illness. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and take steps to manage and reduce stress.

When your body isn’t battling chronic stress or nutrient deficiencies caused by a poor diet, it is better equipped to fight off colds and other illnesses before they have a chance to strike.