The Do’s & Don’ts Of Germ Etiquette


You don’t necessarily have to be in the throes of the “cold and flu” season to effectively spread germs. So in order to minimize your exposure when you are under the weather, there are a few gestures you want to instill as well as some well-intentioned actions in order to stop the spread of germs. You may be pleasantly surprised to know that it’s not just about lathering yourself in antibacterial creams, lotions, and soaps. Perhaps the best way to stop the spread of germs is to practice these etiquettes as well as a course of action your employer will appreciate.   The Do’s &Amp; Don’ts Of Germ Etiquette 1 Daily Mom, Magazine For FamiliesPhysical Contact

Let’s face it, germs are impossible to avoid, but how people act when they are sick can help restrict, or increase, the spread of germs. That’s why it’s important to mind your manners, especially when feeling under the weather. Let’s begin with the most obvious but yet, quite possibly the most over-looked gesture that spreads germs: shaking hands (especially in business). 

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DO: Stop spreading your germs; you essentially want to avoid the handshakes, a hug, the kisses, or any sort of physical contact.

DO: Properly cough and sneeze. Believe it or not, there actually is a “proper” way to effectively cough or sneeze without the explosive mist of germs. Cover your cough or sneeze by your left shoulder or the crook of your left arm. Be sure to use a tissue using your left hand (non-dominant hand) to hold and blow into the tissue, disposing of it immediately after use. Finalize your germ-minimizing by sanitizing or washing your hands after contact with the tissue because that’s going to keep germs at bay.

DON’T: Many working Americans feel the pressure to show up for work even when they’re sick, creating a misconception that suffering through an illness is the right thing to do. Robitussin commissioned a study and the results were quite interesting –  they found that 65% of Americans go to work sick! If you are an employee, it’s important that you simply go ahead and take a sick day. You’re not doing any of your co-workers any good to show up sick and spread your germs, and you are just going to continue to feel pretty miserable anyway. 

To help cease the spread of germs, it’s best to stay home and take a sick day. Your employer is thinking productivity and business, so by staying home, keeping your germs to yourself and recovering fully, they’ll appreciate not losing any more time from others due to the spread of germs and low productivity from sick employees. You should realize, too, that the same goes for your children if they are feeling under the weather. Once you’ve ruled out the possibilities that they aren’t just trying to play hookie with incomplete homework, and that they really are feeling poorly (including yourself), don’t send them to school, especially if there is a fever present.

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Now that you know how to keep your germs to yourself and minimize spreading the love-bug, there are three things you should keep on hand when you’ve caught someone else’s germs (and you aren’t willing to spread any more love).


  1. Keep some hand sanitizer handy – Have it in your car, purse, or in your office desk; at least if you notice someone else (or even yourself) forgetting about germ etiquette, you’re prepared. Disinfectant wipes are also handy.
  2. Your kitchen pantry or freezer should have the ingredients for a nice hearty soup. For best results, make the base of your soup from homemade broth, from leftover chicken, turkey, or beef bones and meat. It’s a great natural cold remedy chock full of nutrients and minerals; it’s perfect for nourishing a sick body. Use as is, or add simple ingredients like sliced onions and garlic.
  3. Your medicine arsenal – have items that are going to make you feel better so we don’t have to run out and pick them up. Robitussin 12-hour Cough Relief will minimize your symptoms while you are recovering. Be sure to use germ etiquette even if you feel better, because even though your symptoms have temporarily subsided – you can still spread those icky germs while feeling a bit of relief.

There is indeed a way to keep the germs contained, minimizing spreading and mostly to yourself by practicing your germ etiquette when you start to feel something coming on. Parents, you should definitely pass along these etiquette tips to your children, redirecting and modeling these actions the moment they cough or sneeze and come in contact with others. If you’d like more information about germ etiquette and how to subside your symptoms, visit

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Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert, sought out industry leader, accomplished speaker, television personality, author, and Robitussin® spokesperson. She has been featured nationally on The TODAY Show, HLN, The Hallmark Channel, Fox & Friends, and CBS Sunday Morning. She is an Inc. and Huffington Post contributor and is routinely quoted in media such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Kiplinger’s, CNN, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, the Boston Globe, and Chicago Tribune to name only a few.

Since you’ve mastered how to minimize spreading germs, now take with you the Germ-Free Guide To Entertaining Your Kids At The Doctor’s Office when they (or you) need to be seen.  

Photo credits: Andi L, pixabay, Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
This post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician, doctor or health care professional. Please read our terms of use for more information.



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Andi LaBrune
Andi LaBrune
She's a country girl at heart with her hubby and 11 kids in central Virginia. She raises a small homestead of chickens & ducks with her family. If she's not hatching eggs, waiting for those adorable chicks to emerge, or tearing up the kitchen with yet another scrumptious, mouth-watering meal from her grass-fed roots, or she's sweating her sass off teaching Zumba Fitness classes. You can catch up with her and all her wild, yet introverted shenanigans over at The Skinny Mommy.

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