How to stay on your feet during flu season

Fall is in the air, but winter is on its way, ringing flu season with it. 

The health team at Consumer Reports says one key to staying on your feet is by paying attention to your hands.

"It's so important to keep your hands clean. Hand washing, with soap and water is the ideal -- hand sanitizer is the next best option," said Catherine Roberts, Consumer Reports home editor. 

According to the CDC, alcohol-based sanitizer can kill some germs, such as cold and flu viruses, but sanitizer is not reliable against several other germs, including norovirus -- a common and highly contagious stomach bug. 

And it may not be as effective if your hands are visibly dirty.

One recent study even found that washing your hands with water alone without soap might do a better job of removing flu virus than hand sanitizer did.  

That doesn't mean you shouldn't use soap. The best way to clean your hands is to wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

"Hand-washing removes germs from your hands. Hand sanitizer can kill germs, but it doesn't always get all of them, which makes hand washing a better bet," said Roberts. 

If you can't get to a sink -- use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Be sure to use enough to cover your hands and fingers, rubbing it in until it's dry. 

And remember, the number one way to reduce your risk of catching the flu is by getting a flu shot.