When you or family members are fighting a cold or the flu, washing your hands thoroughly and often is merely the first defense in keeping everyone else healthy. Wondering how to disinfect a house after an illness and defend your home from viruses? Simply follow these guidelines.
When someone in your home gets sick, it's tough to keep those germs from spreading. Even if they stay in their room most of the time, it's smart to deep clean the house from top to bottom.
Start with the right stuff
- Cleaning gloves to protect your hands
- Paper towels to toss out and/or cleaning cloths you can wash
- Disinfectant cleaning products with chlorine bleach, including wipes and sprays
Caution: DO NOT mix disinfectant cleaners with bleach and ammonia, which combine to create toxic fumes that can be deadly.
Wash a sick person's sheets, pillowcases, blankets, clothes and any stuffed animals. Wear gloves and carry these items in a laundry basket - don't "hug" them to yourself.
Use a disinfectant to wipe down all hard surfaces, including:
- Light switches, door knobs and drawer handles
- Bedside table tops
- Phones — mobile and land line
- Remote controls, computer keyboards, games and toys
Fast fact: Viruses live at least 24 hours on hard surfaces — and some survive up to two weeks.
In addition to door knobs and light switches, disinfect other frequently touched surfaces, including:
- Sink basins, faucets and handles
- Showers and tubs, especially their fixtures
- Toilet handles, seats and lids
Clean the sick person’s toothbrush often, and once the illness is over, replace it and clean the toothbrush holder.
Pro Tip: Assign your sick family member their own set of towels — and change their hand towel daily.
If possible, don't let the sick person prepare meals or set the table. Wash their cups, plates and utensils in an automatic dishwasher at high heat. If you must hand wash, use the hottest water you can and swirl in a disinfectant solution with bleach before rinsing.
Focus on cleaning every hard surface the sick person may have touched, including:
- All handles: cabinets, drawers, refrigerator, freezer and oven
- Touch pad of microwave and controls of small appliances
- Sinks, counters and table tops
- Backs of chairs and stools
Fast fact: Sponges can trap germs in their nooks and crannies, so it’s better to use fresh paper towels or disinfectant wipes — and then throw them out.
The rest of the house
Start by disinfecting hard surfaces everywhere, including halls and staircases. Plus:
- Living room — If you’ve sneezed and coughed into a comfy throw blanket, it’s time to toss it in the wash.
- Laundry room — After washing the sick person’s linens, towels and clothes, clean your machine by running an empty cycle with hot water and bleach.
- Basement — Replace your furnace’s air filter. If weather permits, open windows each day to bring in some fresh air.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget your vehicle! Use disinfectant wipes on door handles, steering wheel, dashboard controls and kids’ car seats.