3 Ways to Combat Cold & Flu Germs

‘Tis the season for flus, colds, and coughs but I have a secret weapon.

It’s small, portable, and it squashes germs in one fell swoop. Simple and affordable, sanitizing hand and surface wipes are my first line of defense against those winter germs that can quickly and systematically knock your entire family out of commission. Considering the fact that up to 20 percent of the U.S. population comes down with the flu each year, every little measure helps.

Mind you, I’m all about good old fashioned hand washing with soap and water (for 20 seconds, usually sung to the ABC song in our house), but I have a four-year-old daughter and we are often on the go, moving from home to preschool and from the ski slopes to the gymnastics center. Every day, we battle germs galore in all these kid-packed spots. Which is exactly why portability is key for our family.

I’ve tested out all manner of germ-squashing, flu-fighting sprays and gels and I always come back to the wipe. It’s packaging is often bigger and bulkier (and it can leave a larger eco footprint) but even more natural gels and sprays often burn and leave hands feeling tacky. Wipes do double duty for us, washing off both caked-on car snacks and germs in one good swipe.

There are several solid natural and plant-based options out there today. Here are three of my favorites, which I’ve tested extensively over the past two years. Any of these wipes will make for a welcome addition to your car, travel bag, or diaper bag.

EO® Hand Cleansing Wipes

EO Hand Cleansing Hand Wipes Tub Lavender open_1

Available in a variety of sizes, from single-use packets ($0.59 each) to 210-count canisters ($29.99, I toted this behemoth on a two-week trip to Australia), EO’s Hand Cleansing Wipes are an excellent option for those wanting to ward off germs on the go. EO’s ingredients are all organic and plant-based—no toxic chemicals here. These fresh-smelling wipes are also infused with pure essential oils and aloe that heal and moisturize. This wipe does contain germ-killing organic alcohol, which is effective but can be a bit more harsh on the skin.

Ingredients: Organic Alcohol, Purified Water, Vegetable Glycerin, EO Essential Oil Blend [Organic Lavender (Lavandula Officinalis) Essential Oil, Organic Lavandin (Lavandula Hybrida) Essential Oil], EO Organic Herbal Blend [Organic Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf, Organic Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita) Flower Extract, Organic Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) Flower Extract, and Organic White Tea (Camelia Sinensis) Leaf Extract]

CleanWell All-Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes
These natural, non-toxic alcohol-free CleanWell Hand Wipes ($3.79 for a pack of 10) kill all the germs sans the sting. That means they’re spot on for kids and those with more sensitive skin. Made from rapidly renewable botanical sources, these wipes pack a punch. Those with a strong gluten sensitivity may want to note that this product contains hydrolyzed oats, which contains gluten.
Ingredients: Thyme Oil, Aloe Vera, Citric Acid, Copper PCA, Sodium Decylglucosides Hydroxypropyl Sulfonate (plant-based emulsifier), Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Hydrolized Oats, Sodium Citrate, Oregano Oil, Water
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes
The green cleaning powerhouse teamed up with CleanWell to develop its Disinfecting Wipe ($8.29/70-wipe canister)—said to kill over 99.99 percent of household germs naturally using CleanWell’s unique plant-based, germ-busting formula with thyme oil.
These EPA-registered wipes specifically attack Influenza A viruses including H1N1, Rhinovirus (type 37, the Common Cold virus), Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
While these wipes are marketed for use on hard, nonporous household surfaces, I’ve used them effectively while traveling—on airplane seats, shopping carts, car steering wheels, you name it. I’ve also used them with success as a hand sanitizer.
Erinn Morgan


After a 10-year career as an award-winning New York City-based editor launching and redesigning urban, style-driven magazines, Erinn Morgan left downtown Manhattan after September 11th, 2001, in search of a less encumbered, freelance lifestyle. A two-year-long trek around the country eventually landed her in Durango, Colo., which she now calls home.

Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Bike, Skiing, Delicious Living, American Cowboy, and on away.com.

Erinn is also the author of the eco-focused book, Picture Yourself Going Green, Step-by-Step Instruction for Living a Budget-Conscious, Earth-Friendly Lifestyle in Eight Weeks or Less.

She was previously the editor-in-chief of 20/20 magazine, a special projects editor at Playboy (overseeing the launch of a new, custom magazine), and the founding editor/editor-in-chief of SoHo Style, a much-lauded, avant-garde magazine that covered the culture and style of downtown New York and its reach around the world.

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