The best method of dealing with malware is of course, don't get it in the first place.
However, it is so rampant and the scumbags that write it are getting more efficient all the time at finding ways around our defenses.
So we need to be proactive and have the big guns already available for taking care of an infection.
First of all we need a virus/spyware scanner constantly updating without intervention on our part. This is to keep infections out before they can have a chance to install. While some of the available products do seem to be better than others, most are adequate for the job.
Most of the free products like AVG, Avast, Microsoft Security Essentials, etc., work very well. Just try them out and decide which one you want based on how it affects your computer. Sometimes a security program will have a conflict with other programs on your computer. This doesn't usually happen but it can.
There are a lot of good and not really expensive security suites available as well. Again, since most have free trials, decide on one you like and then get one if your choice is a paid suite.
Now about those big guns. I don't care which virus/spyware scanner you use, you may get an infection. Some of these nasties will prevent you from connecting to the Internet (while the nasties can and will!).
So while your computer is clean and running ok, get the tools you will need before you need them. Go to this site (BleepingComputer) and read how to get your Internet connection back if a nastie has stopped you from connecting.
Then download rkill (the download link is on BleepingComputer's site) and keep it where you can find it. (A flash drive would be good.) Download Malwarebytes, and update and run it every now and then. You can also download SuperAntiSpyware and keep that handy as well. Keep your spyware tools on a flash drive and then your guns will be available to help someone else as well.
The malware writers no longer target just Windows to infect a computer. There are a lot of other programs such as Adobe (especially Adobe!) that can be targeted. So it is important to keep all of your programs updated.
I use Secunia to let me know if a program on my computer needs updating. You can use Secunia online or you can download Secunia to your computer; it's your choice, either works fine. I personally like it on my computer so I don't have to go online to see if I need to update a program.
The free versions of Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware work just fine for malware removal.
The best defense is a great offense. You have to be the one to decide what you need to do to keep your computer safe. This includes practicing safe computer habits such as not clicking on links if you don't know where that link will take you or what will happen if you if you click it. (Facebook comes to mind!)