What's New Just in time for flu season, Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex, is introducing a new product: Kleenex Anti-Viral tissues, expected in stores by Oct. 1. The slightly thicker tissue (three-ply vs. the more typical two-ply) includes a middle layer sprinkled with two chemicals: citric acid, a common soft drink flavoring agent; and sodium lauryl sulfate, a wetting agent in shampoos. The company says they will kill many cold and flu viruses. Mary Goggans, associate marketing director at Kleenex, said the chemicals are activated by the moisture in a cough, sneeze or drippy nose and kill the viruses within 15 minutes. Company studies found no allergy or safety concerns.

What It Can Do Company studies show the tissue can reduce the spread of viral diseases by trapping the viruses in the tissue instead of allowing them to move to your hands, a doorknob, toilet seat handle or other surface. The new tissues will cost the same as non-coated ones, according to Goggans: Boxes of 60 will commonly be priced at $1.39; boxes of 120, $1.99.

What It Can't Sorry, the tissue won't do a thing to shorten or improve your cold or flu symptoms, said Andy Bonwit, chief of outpatient infectious diseases at Children's National Medical Center. But the person who shares your office cubicle may stay healthier longer. The tissue is also ineffective against illnesses caused by bacteria.

Better Still The ultimate weapon against spreading viruses: washing your hands, including under the fingernails, whenever you cough or sneeze into them. No tissue? Sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow, said Bonwit, not the part of your limb you use to turn a doorknob.

-- Francesca Lunzer Kritz