With cold and flu season creeping upon us, it’s time to talk about the root cause: those pesky germs.  Before you stock the medicine cabinet with acetaminophen and chest rub, you’ll need to plan your offensive strategy to keep those bugs at bay.  To that end, we’ve summed up the best in expert advice on how to keep your house healthy this winter.  Spoiler alert: it can be as easy as a humidifier and hand soap… and a few tricks to keep those germs in check.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),  it is agreed that the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs comes down to the basics: wash your hands.  Do it often, for longer than you think (two rounds of the ABCs), with warm water (it’s like the special sauce of hand washing) and regular soap.  When you feel your child is ready (this could be as early as 8 months!) start to teach them how to wash their own hands.  As for soap, the American Medical Association says to ditch the antibacterial varieties— there’s no proof it’s more effective than regular soap.

It’s okay to use hand sanitizer when you’re in a pinch, but be sure not to make it the go-to way to clean hands.  The Mayo Clinic reminds us that children under 2 years of age should not use hand sanitizer, and when children do use it, they should be supervised and use only a dime-sized amount.

Don’t wait to dust off the humidifier once illness strikes.  Humidifiers are as much a preventive measure to ward of sickness as they are the key to getting some sleep when your little one is congested.  Think of dry, winter air as the home field advantage for germs: it dries out your sinuses, lowering your resistance to bacteria and viruses, plus, germs travel better in dry air.  Slow ‘em down by keeping the air moist, and when the air is moist, sinuses are less likely to dry out.  Crane’s Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers are filterless, easy to clean, and run quietly for 24 hours.  Their designs run from super-adorable to ultra chic (we’re obsessed with the Drops), making them suitable for every room in the house.

As for the great disinfecting debate, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and AAP both agree there is a time and place for it. The quick rule? Clean daily, save the disinfecting for times of illness.  Use a disinfecting solution (not wipes—the verdict is still out on those) and be sure to follow the directions for disinfecting precisely, as it usually involves allowing the product sit on the surface for some time.  While there’s no reason to regularly clean toys when everyone in the house is healthy, when there is a sick child or after anytime after a playdate, cleaning and disinfecting are a good idea.  While we’re on the topic of household germs, here’s another reason to keep that smart phone and TV remote out of baby’s reach: they’re two of the gnarliest items in your house. Yuck.

More than any cleaning regimen, remember that the best defense against illness is plenty of rest, a balanced diet and proper hydration. May the odds be ever in your favor this flu season!