briefcase with mask
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19 Essential Items to Keep You Safe and Healthy as You Return to Work

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briefcase with mask
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Peace-of-Mind Purchases

The pandemic isn't over, but states are reopening across the country, and so are many offices and other workplaces. If your employer is telling you to come back, make sure they're taking ample precautions against COVID-19, and remember that your best defenses against germs include physical distancing and frequent hand-washing, according to the CDC. While no single thing can guarantee your safety, here are some items that can help foster safer habits and relieve stress while getting back to the grind.

Related: 16 Well-Paying Jobs That Make Social Distancing Easy

Key Smart
Amazon

KeySmart CleanKey Hand Tool

Price: $25 from Amazon
Buy It
Ever wish you had an extra pair of hands to avoid high-touch surfaces? That's what CleanKey aims to be. The brass tool can press buttons, open doors, or navigate grimy touch screens, and it's small enough to keep on your keychain or in your pocket. Just don't forget that it will need frequent disinfecting.

Hand soap sheets
Amazon

Travelon Soap Sheets

Price: $5 for 50 ct. from Amazon
Buy It
Experts agree that frequent hand-washing is still one of the best ways to combat COVID-19. Soap sheets are an ingenious way to always have your own soap without dragging around an impractical bottle or a slimy bar.

Germ Guardian 3-in-1 Desk Air Purifier
Amazon

Germ Guardian 3-in-1 Desk Air Purifier

Buy on  $54.99

Price: $60 from Amazon
Buy It
A personal fan is a tempting way to keep air circulating in a stuffy cubicle or office, but experts warn that fans can spread virus droplets in a shared space. A compact air purifier is a safer bet, and the EPA says it can reduce airborne contaminants. Just note that no air purifier is a substitute for hand-washing and other best practices.

Personal Face Mask in Solid Colors
A-line

A-Line Hawaii Face Mask

Price: $22 from A-Line
Buy It
Proper fit is important to make a work mask comfortable enough to wear all day long. A-Line isn't the only company making face masks in a variety of sizes, but it's among the makers we've seen with the largest range of sizes. There are five to choose from, suitable for everyone from preschoolers to larger men. Check out some of our other picks for face masks and accessories here.

polar water bottle

Polar Bottle Insulated Water Bottle

Price: $12 from Amazon
Buy It
Stay hydrated without making repeat trips to the water cooler with this 24-ounce bottle. It's insulated enough to keep water cold, but it won't weigh down your work bag like a heavier stainless steel bottle.

Related: 25 Companies With the Most Work-From-Home Jobs Right Now

centrum
Walmart

Centrum Adult Multivitamins

Price: $14 for 200 ct. from Walmart
Buy It
Experts remain skeptical of supplements that claim immune-boosting properties, but a multivitamin is a good idea, they say. Centrum is among the multis that contain an adequate daily dose of vitamin D, which can be harder to get from the sun if you're spending long hours in an office.

Related: 11 Inexpensive Ways to Get More Vitamin D

Pack It Freezable Commuter Lunch Box
Amazon

PackIt Freezable Commuter Lunch Box

Price: $27 from Amazon
Buy It
Going out for lunch with your coworkers may be a thing of the past for now. This roomy soft-sided lunch box has freezable gel built right into the walls of the bag, so you don't even have to fuss with ice packs. Just collapse the whole bag, put it in your freezer overnight, and fill it in the morning.

Hello Bello Hand Sanitizer
Walmart

Hello Bello Hand Sanitizer

Price: $12 for 4 bottles from Walmart
Buy It
Hand sanitizer is finally making its way back onto shelves. While experts say sanitizer is no substitute for thoroughly washing your hands, it's still a must for on-the-fly disinfecting. Stash small bottles in your bag, car, cubicle, or wherever else you might need them.

ANKER SOUNDCORE
Amazon

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Noise-Canceling Headphones

Price: $60 from Amazon
Buy It
Sure, headphones don't possess any virus-fighting properties, but they are a good way to show potentially chatty coworkers that you take social distancing seriously. This relatively inexpensive pair can reduce ambient noise by up to 90%, so it might help you concentrate, too.

bubba Hero XL Vacuum-Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug
Amazon

Bubba Hero XL Travel Mug

Price: $13 from Amazon
Buy It
Now's as good a time as any to avoid unnecessary trips to Starbucks or the communal coffee pot. Load up on 30 ounces of your favorite brew at home with this insulated travel mug. Despite its heft, it fits in most cup holders, allowing you to fuel up on your commute.

Tekcians Mask Extenders, 10 ct.
Amazon

Tekcians Mask Extenders

Price: $10 for 10 from Amazon
Buy It
Even if you do find the world's comfiest mask, hours of wear can leave you with sore ears. These mask extenders attach to a mask's elastic loops, helping take the pressure off your ears and providing a closer, more comfortable fit.

HoMedics UV-Clean Phone Sanitizer
Amazon

HoMedics UV-Clean Phone Sanitizer

Price: $80 from Amazon
Buy It
Long hours at work offer a good chance to disinfect one of the germiest things you tote everywhere you go: your cellphone. Sanitizers that use ultraviolet light really do work, making them a solid, if pricey, alternative for those who don't want to risk damaging their phones with wipes or liquid cleaners.

Great Value Ultra Strong Paper Towels, Split Sheets, 2 Triple Rolls
Walmart

Great Value Ultra Strong Paper Towels

Price: $5 for 2 rolls from Walmart
Buy It
Shared restrooms feel like a minefield right now. One way to reduce your risk: Bypass the ubiquitous air dryer and use paper towels after washing your hands, not only to dry off, but to turn off the water and open the bathroom door. Ideally, your employer will have them on hand, but keeping your own stash is a good idea just in case.

Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream
Walmart

Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream

Buy on AAP  $10.99

Price: $4.50 from Walmart
Buy It
If you're washing your hands as much as you should be, dry, itchy skin might be one of the byproducts. A non-greasy, fragrance-free, fast-absorbing lotion like this one is particularly convenient to keep on hand at work.

Baggallini Avenue Tote
Amazon

Baggallini Avenue Tote

Price: $50 from Amazon
Buy It
If the thought of bringing germs home on your work bag gives you the heebie-jeebies, consider investing in one that can be tossed in the washing machine. This Baggallini is big enough for a laptop and other work essentials, and it has plenty of interior pockets to help you stay organized.

KIND Bars
Amazon

Kind Bars

Price: $14 for 12 from Amazon
Buy It
Avoid vending machines or unnecessary snack stops by bringing your own ready supply of munchies to work. Gluten-free Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt Kind bars have enough chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth, and the almonds pack in enough protein to relieve any hunger pangs.

wear a mask
Etsy

'Wear a Mask' Sign

Price: $7 from Etsy
Buy It
Want a gentle way to remind your coworkers to keep their distance? This Etsy download, easy to print yourself and put up on an office door or cubicle wall, kindly makes the point for you.

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
Target

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes To Go Pack

Price: $1 from Target
Buy It
If you're lucky enough to track down some disinfecting wipes, save them for a very important job: cleaning a potentially filthy keyboard, especially if it's used by anyone else. (No wipes? Use a small amount of 70% isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth instead.)  

The Friendly Swede Stress Balls, 3 ct.
Amazon

The Friendly Swede Stress Balls

Price: Starting at $10 for 3 from Amazon
Buy It
A little stress relief is in order when you're returning to work during a pandemic. Even better: Fidgeting with these stress balls can help keep you from touching your face, and they're easy to clean with soap and water.