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Cleaning Your Home After an Illness Like the Flu

Cleaning Your Home After an Illness Like the Flu

Clean light switches to reduce the spread of illnesses. Photo source: Laurie Osgood

Seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are most common during the fall and winter, with peak activity occurring between December and February.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, including senior adults, young children, and persons with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

When someone in your family has had a cold or the flu, it is important to clean and sanitize your house properly to avoid any recurrences or further spreading. Follow these tips:

  • Before you get started, try opening the windows for some fresh air, or raise your blinds or curtains to let in the natural light.
  • Clean the areas first, then disinfect.
  • Wash your hands often:  before, during and after cleaning.
IN THE BATHROOM

The bathroom will need a good cleaning and disinfection after an illness.

  • Disinfect with a mixture of bleach and water.  Use one scant teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
  • Clean toilet lever, shower faucets, cabinet knobs, light switches, and doorknobs.
  • Replace or clean toothbrushes.
IN THE KITCHEN
  • Disinfect all things that people touch:  refrigerator door handles; coffee pot; electric can opener; microwave oven; door, stove, and cabinet knobs; faucets; light switches.  Do NOT use chlorine bleach with added fragrance, as it is not food-safe.
  • Run all utensils through the dishwasher after each use.
  • For more information on sanitizing the kitchen, see Cleaning and Sanitizing the Kitchen: Using Inexpensive Household Food-Safe Products.
IN THE FAMILY ROOM
  • Clean remotes, phones, computer keypads, gaming systems, door knobs, and light switches.
  • Sanitize all items with proper cleaning products.
IN THE BEDROOM
  • Change pillow cases daily and wash soiled bed linens right away with proper laundry detergent.
  • Wash everything in your washer on the hottest temperature the fabric allows, but be sure not to overload your washer.
  • Disinfect all items on the night stand. Don’t forget light switches, doorknobs and drawer pulls, and remote controls, if used.
CLEANING KIDS’ TOYS
  • Some stuffed animals can be cleaned in the washer with the other bedding.
  • For hard-surfaced toys, make sure to clean with proper cleaning solutions for their surface and rinse well.
  • Some small toys can be safely cleaned in a mesh laundry bag in the top rack of the dishwasher.

WHAT TOOLS ARE NEEDED?

  • Rubber gloves
  • A different sponge for each room you are cleaning or paper towels
  • Proper cleaning products:  Please be sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions on all cleaning products.

According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on surfaces for 48 hours—potentially infecting anyone who comes in contact with the germs. Disinfecting the house is one of the best ways to prevent anyone else from contracting the illness.

For more information on sterilizing items in your home, visit the CDC Website, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/questions/sterilization/cleaning.html