If you’ve had the flu run through your house, you know how terrible it is! Here are nine ways to disinfect your house after flu season to help keep it from spreading!
The flu season can be pretty brutal, especially if it spreads from person to person throughout your whole household. But there are some very simple things you can do to help prevent the flu from spreading in your house. Here are my favorite ways to disinfect your house after flu season, or after someone gets sick.
9 Ways To Disinfect Your House After Flu Season
You may be tempted to quarantine the sick person and throw everything in their room into the laundry, but give yourself a break (especially if you are also recovering from being sick!) Cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, so it is important to disinfect your house, but you don’t need to scrub away at everything in sight. Instead focus on frequently touched surfaces and shared spaces to help prevent the spread of the flu to others in your home.
1. How To Disinfect
First of all, let’s talk about the right way to disinfect things in your house. You want to use a disinfectant that actually kills the cold and flu viruses you are targeting. Don’t just grab the bottle of bleach from your laundry room; chances are it might not be a germicidal bleach. “Splash-less” bleach and bleach designed for laundry don’t actually kill germs. Make sure it specifically says somewhere on the label that it kills germs, bacteria, or cold and flu viruses etc.
If you’re using a disinfectant spray, paper towels are better than a sponge or cleaning cloth. Sponges and dishcloths just tend to spread things around, according to WebMD. If you have a sponge, now is actually a great time to clean it! Disinfect your sponge by sticking it in the microwave with some water.
Even better than paper towels are disposable disinfectant wipes; with paper towels you spray, wipe, and remove the disinfectant spray, but with a disinfectant wipe you wipe and let the disinfectant dry on the surface, giving it more time to kill any organisms.
2. Disinfect Your Tech
Your tech devices are some of the most often touched items in your home, but when was the last time you cleaned them? After the flu has hit your house, make sure you disinfect all your phone, including landlines, computer keyboards, remotes (right?!), tablets, and any other touchscreens or devices that you frequently touch.
3. Clean All The Tables
Dining tables, coffee tables, kitchen tables, play area tables, and night tables are another set of often touched items in your home that aren’t thoroughly cleaned as often as they should be. Prevent the spread of the flu through your house by disinfecting all your tables when someone is sick.
4. Get Some Clean Air
If you have central air in your home, make sure you switch out your air filter after someone’s been sick. It’s a cheap and easy way to make sure you’re not recirculating those germs throughout your whole house.
Clean out your bathroom exhaust fans too to make sure you’re not sending dust and dirt back into your air.
And if it’s not too cold outside, open the windows to let some fresh air in; the fresh air will reinvigorate you and will help clean out the stale air in your home.
5. Sanitize Kid Stuff
To sanitize hard, non-porous items like plastic toys, dishes, sippy cups, teething rings, etc. first wash the items with soap and water and rinse, then soak them in a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water for at least 2 minutes. After two minutes, drain the water and let the items air dry (no rinsing necessary according to Clorox’s website!) Or if you really need to disinfect stuff and not just sanitize it, you can follow these instructions on how to disinfect bath toys using a stronger bleach solution.
If your kid’s stuffed animals can go in the laundry, toss it in there with their sheets and blankets (see #8 below for specific laundry tips). If they’re not washable, keep the stuffed animals away from everyone for at least 3 days to let the viruses on the surface die.
6. Disinfect The Bathrooms
Definitely make sure you wipe down all of the hard surfaces in the bathroom with a disinfectant spray or disinfectant wipe. Or you can make your own disinfectant solution with 1/2 cup of bleach per gallon of water. Apply the bleach solution to the surface and let it stand for at least five minutes, then rinse thoroughly and air dry.
Also, don’t share hand towels with the sick person. Give the sick person their own hand towel, or have them use disposable paper towels to dry their hands until they’re no longer sick.
Be sure to wash any bathroom items that have touched your face or mouth, like makeup brushes and toothbrushes.
7. Keep The Bedrooms Germ-Free
When you’re finally starting to feel better, you can take all of your bedding and toss it in the laundry to get it really clean (see #8 below for specific laundry tips). In the meantime, double up your pillowcases and fitted sheets to help absorb any extra sweat before it hits your pillow or mattress. (If you want a great tip on cleaning and freshening a mattress, check this article out.)
Make sure there’s a waste basket in the bedrooms to catch all those used tissues and wipes, and put a plastic bag in the waste basket before throwing anything away. That way you can easily switch out the bag and get those germs out of your house and into the trash.
If someone vomits into a waste basket, you can disinfect it with the same 1/2 cup of bleach per gallon of water solution that you’d use in the bathrooms.
8. Take Care When Doing Laundry
Washing towels, sheets, and other bedding in the laundry is a great way to get it clean, but don’t let yourself catch those germs as you’re doing laundry! Don’t “hug” dirty laundry to your body while carrying it; use a basket or hamper to take it to the laundry room, and be sure to wash your hands after you load the washer.
When doing laundry after the flu, wash everything on the hottest setting (or a “sanitize” setting if your machine has one) and make sure you include bleach or color-safe bleach in every load to get rid of those germs. If your machine (regular or HE) has a bleach dispenser, just fill it to the MAX line and you’re good to go. If there’s no bleach dispenser, add 2/3 cup of bleach for a regular machine or 1/3 cup bleach for an HE machine to the wash water as the cycle is running.
You can also wash pillows in your washing machine to get those clean along with your pillowcases.
After all the laundry is done and the flu is on its way out, make sure you wash your washing machine as well. You’ll want to sanitize it with bleach to make sure it’s not harboring any germs.
9. Wash Your Hands
Keeping your hands clean is just as important as keeping your house clean, especially during flu season. Be sure you wash with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds (you can sing “Row Row Row Your Boat” twice) after using the bathroom, before eating, before touching your nose, mouth, or eyes, after being outside, and after being in contact with a sick person.
BONUS: Disinfect Inside Your Car
Another often touched place is the inside of your car. Wipe down the steering wheel, dashboard controls, gear shift, and door handles with a disinfectant spray or disinfectant wipes.
Also, if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, get one! The FDA says that flu activity can last as late as May in the U.S., so it’s not too late.
If your bout with the flu is late in flu season, get a head start on your spring cleaning while you disinfect your house after flu season with my ultimate 31-day spring cleaning checklist!
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