Wth winter knocking at the door, and pool parties, barbecues, and vacations now only a memory of the summer that was, many people are spending more time inside—whether at work, school or at home.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, increased exposure to colds and flus typically accompanies this shift. During this period of cooler temperatures, cases of influenza increase almost tenfold, peaking in December when kids bring germs home from school, and again in January or February when the coldest temperatures of the year set in.

Steam cleaning is an effective way to reduce the spread of infection at home and in the workplace. Top quality steam cleaners heat up within four minutes and treat a variety of surfaces at temperatures designed to eliminate germs.

 Steam cleaning kitchen and bathroom countertops, appliances, taps and other areas of your home minimizes germs. Top-drawer floor models keep a consistent volume of high-pressure steam (35g/min), which means that no time is wasted when cleaning and sanitizing.

An analog or digital pressure gauge allows you to see when to begin, while a commercial grade accessory kit gives you the arsenal you need to rid unsuspecting areas of your home of germs. Protecting you and your family from winter’s colds and flus has never been easier. Offices are also susceptible to this seasonal proliferation of germs.

One study reported in the Wall Street Journal revealed that an infected person coming into an office could saturate the workplace within four hours. Tests revealed that even the presence of a virus on a single doorknob had spread to 40-60 per cent of the surfaces and 40-60 per cent of the people—including on their hands—within that same time frame.

“If you have the virus on your hands, you have a 30 per cent chance of getting sick,” said Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal health reporter.

Factors affecting this outcome include your own immunity, how much you exercise, your overall nutrition, and how much you’ve been exposed to the virus. A quality portable steam cleaner is the perfect office companion. Pathogens in offices generally survive from hours to months, with typical colds and influenza germs surviving two to four hours. Gastrointestinal viruses (like Norovirus) survive as long as 30 days. To battle these unwanted visitors, routinely steam the surface of your desk, your office chair and door handle to minimize germs.

With a heat-up time of two minutes and a four-bar pressure for maximum cleaning power, this lightweight buddy stows simply in a cupboard or draw of your office desk. And don’t forget about those floors. In an interview with Business Insider, Philip Tierno, Jr., Ph.D., a microbiologist at New York University and author of The Secret Life of Germs , said that he steam cleaned his floors monthly to eliminate potentially harmful germs and pathogens.

Since steam cleaners kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria when they reach temperatures above 245 F, they can help reduce the spread of colds and flus. They also eliminate allergens like mold and dust mites, which reduce immunity in those who suffer from allergies and make them more vulnerable to infection.

Here are a few more tips for weathering this year’s cold and flu season:

  1. Wash clothing regularly and wear natural fibers. According to the study above, viruses and bacteria survive longer on synthetic fibers.
  2. Avoid shaking hands, especially if you suspect someone is sick.
  3. Steam clean surfaces in your home and office regularly. In the office, that includes desks, door handles and coffee stations; the most common places where germs lurk. At home, target hard surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom like handrails, tables, faucets and doorknobs for best results.
  4. Avoid antibacterial soap. Instead, wash hands with plain soap and water or use hand sanitizer sparingly.
  5. Sleep well and eat unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods to keep your immune system healthy and strong.
  6. Easy to use and inexpensive to buy, steam cleaners can bring peace of mind to an unpredictable season.