How To Clean Your Home After an Illness
Clean and Disinfect
When your household is healthy, simply wiping down surfaces with soapy water is a fine way to get rid of some germs and make things look tidy. But if someone in your home has been sick, you’ll also need to disinfect to destroy the illness-causing germs.
To make sure you’ve got a product that will do the trick, look for a cleaner that specifically says “disinfectant.” You can also mix a quarter-cup of chlorine bleach with a gallon of hot water. In fact, the CDC recommends bleach to kill the stomach bug-causing norovirus on surfaces. If bleach will damage your surface, look for “phenolic solution” on the label of a concentrated disinfectant.
Flu viruses can also be killed with hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners.
Microwave Your Sponge Before You Start
Because they’re often moist, your kitchen and bathroom sponges are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. If someone’s sick, try cleaning with a microfiber cloth instead. If you really want to clean with a sponge, wet it and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes first. Doing so will kill 99.9% of the germs.
Whether you choose a cloth or a sponge, be careful not to bring germs from one room to another on dirty cleaning tools. Use a different color for each room to keep them straight.
Wear Gloves and Wash Your Hands
Disposable rubber, vinyl, or latex gloves can help prevent the spread of germs while you clean while also protecting your skin from harsh products. When someone in your home is sick, toss the gloves when you're done so you don’t spread disease. Even if you’ve worn gloves the entire time you cleaned, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands when you’ve finished.
Start in The Bathroom
When your household is sick, your bathroom becomes even more of a germ hot spot. After a bug hits, disinfect this room with a mix of bleach and hot water. Don’t forget the toilet lever, shower faucets, cabinet handles, doorknobs, and light switches.
While you’re in the bathroom, make sure to replace your toothbrushes after an illness.
Disinfect The Kitchen
Even when you’re healthy, the kitchen is the germiest place in your house, so it’s important to pay very special care to meal prep areas after someone in your home has been sick. Disinfect all the things you touch, like the refrigerator handle and inside drawers, coffeepot, microwave, faucets, and stove knobs. Wash dishes and utensils in 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of hot water.
If you’re the one who’s ill, don’t cook until you haven’t had any symptoms for 48 hours.
Reset The Bedrooms
Wash dirty clothes, soiled linens, or stuffed toys right away with nonchlorine bleach in the hottest water possible, and dry on the hottest setting.
Disinfect nightstands, bedposts, and changing tables, and look for things that could be germy. Wash pacifiers and hard toys in the dishwasher.
Clean The Family Room
When cleaning your living room or family room after an illness, don’t forget the sneaky hot spots like remote controls, computer keypads, doorknobs, light switches etc. Steam clean rugs and upholstery at 170 F for 5 minutes or 212 F for 1 minute to kill the stomach bug norovirus.
Don’t Forget the Electronics
To prevent damaging your electronics, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, but don’t neglect these germy hotspots!
When a bug strikes your home, it can live on your surfaces for as days or even weeks! Following the steps above will destroy these left-behind germs and keep sickness from spreading.