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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 as states lift restrictions, many offices and other workplaces are bringing workers back, even as people in some areas balk at getting vaccinated. 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 being vaccinated, maintaining physical distance, and continuing 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. It's worth remembering, too, that there are plenty of other germs out there besides COVID-19.


Prices and availability are subject to change.


Related:
 Things We'll Never Want to See Again After the Pandemic 

KeySmart CleanKey Hand Tool
Walmart

KeySmart CleanKey Hand Tool

$20 from Walmart
Shop Now

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.  


Related: How to Disinfect Without Ruining Your Stuff or Your Health

Hand soap sheets
Amazon

Travelon Soap Sheets

$5 for 50 ct. from Amazon
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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.


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Germ Guardian 3-in-1 Desk Air Purifier
Amazon

Germ Guardian 3-in-1 Desk Air Purifier

$55 from Amazon
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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. 


Related: Essentials You Can Buy With an FSA Now to Keep the Money From Going to Waste

Personal Face Mask in Solid Colors
A-line

A-Line Hawaii Face Mask

$15 from A-Line
Shop Now 

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 Sport Water Bottle Amazon
Amazon

Polar Bottle Insulated Water Bottle

$12 from Amazon
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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.

 

centrum
Walmart
Pack It Freezable Commuter Lunch Box
Amazon

PackIt Freezable Commuter Lunch Box

$27 from Amazon
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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
ANKER SOUNDCORE
Amazon

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Noise-Canceling Headphones

$50 from Amazon
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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
Face Mask Extender 10 Count
Amazon

Face Mask Extenders

$10 for 10 from Amazon
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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

$21 from Amazon
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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

$5 for 2 rolls from Walmart
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Shared restrooms might 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

$4.50 from Walmart
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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

$40 from Amazon
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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
wear a mask
Etsy

'Wear a Mask' Sign

$4.50 from Etsy
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Want a gentle way to remind your unvaccinated 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
The Friendly Swede Stress Balls, 3 ct.
Amazon