When someone in your house has the flu priority number one is preventing anyone else from getting it. Considering how contagious this year’s strain is that might seem like an impossible task, but it’s not. You can save yourself the agony of having a house full of sick-o’s by following the steps below in our checklist to disinfect your house after the flu.
What to clean after the flu hits your house
As a former microbiologist, one of my favorite sayings is, “I am not a germaphobe. I am germ aware.”
My college years plus a few beyond that were spent studying viruses and bacteria. You quickly learn that germs are everywhere. In the labs I worked in I was exposed to them on a daily basis. However, we were also taught how to use universal precautions to protect ourselves from exposure and prevent infection.
All to say, you don’t need to be paranoid – just be proactive!
How to avoid getting the flu
The best case scenario is that you avoid getting the flu in the first place. The number one way to accomplish this goal is to wash your hands. Use soap, warm water and wash for about 20 seconds.
The next tip is to keep your hands away from your face; especially your eyes, nose and mouth. If you need to touch one of these areas wash your hands before and after. In fact, that is a good rule to follow whether someone is sick or not.
Finally, it’s a good idea to do what you can to boost your immune system. This is especially true for kids, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system. This is an article I wrote about how my family manages to boost our immune systems and avoid getting sick.
But, what if someone has already gotten sick?
Then you need to follow this checklist to disinfect your house after the flu.
Related Post: How to Teach your Kids to Avoid Nasty Germs at School
If you don’t want to try to memorize the entire list, you can check out the printable version.
What should you be using to disinfect your house after the flu?
When starting the process you will want to be sure to disinfect the areas that really matter; shared spaces and frequently touched surfaces.
“The flu virus can live on surfaces for 48 hours—potentially infecting anyone who comes in contact with the germs, according to the CDC” – staywell.walgreens.com
- Add 1 tablespoon of bleach to 4 cups of water. For a larger supply of disinfectant, add ¼ cup of bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
- Apply the solution to the surface with a cloth.
- Let it stand for 3–5 minutes.
- Rinse the surface with clean water.
If you are worried about using bleach, vinegar and alcohol wipes are the least toxic and most biodegradable when it comes to disinfectants.
Use disinfecting wipes on electronic items that are touched often, such as phones and computers. Pay close attention to the directions for using disinfecting wipes. It may be necessary to use more than one wipe to keep the surface wet for the stated length of contact time. Make sure that the electronics can withstand the use of liquids for cleaning and disinfecting.
The checklist to disinfect your house after the flu is conveniently broken down into three categories which you will see below.
1) Items to Wipe Down
2) Items to Wash
3) Items to throw away
Let’s get started with the steps to disinfect your house after the flu!
Items to Wipe Down or Spray
Cell phones and home phones
Computer keyboards, mouse and tablet screens
Handles on the bathroom and kitchen faucets
Toilet bowl, seat and handle
Cupboard and drawer pulls
While you are washing bedding (see below) you can also do a quick spray of disinfectant on your mattress
Furniture and Throw Pillows
If they have removable covers it is best to wash them, however you can also spray them with a fabric safe disinfectant.
Bacteria and viruses can quickly spread to the garbage can when they are full of tissues and other waste created during an illness. My recommendation is to use a brown paper grocery bag lined with a plastic garbage bag for such items. Then instead of having to clean the garbage can, you just toss the entire bag. If you decide to use your regular waste bins be sure to spray them down as well.
Items to Wash
Of course you want to check the label on each item for washing instructions, but you will kill the most germs by washing in hot water and drying on a hot cycle. Just don’t throw in your cashmere sweater 😉
Sheets, blankets and towels
It is best to avoid using hand towels when someone in the home is sick. A paper towel is a much better option to prevent the spread of the illness.
Items to Throw Away
Some people say that you can clean your toothbrush and continue to use it. I would prefer to just replace it.
Uneaten food or drinks
You might not think of this one, but once my daughter was sick and put her Gatorade in the refrigerator after taking a few drinks. The next thing we know my son found it and is gulping it down! From then on we decided it was just easier to toss anything that had been used and instead try to pour or serve single portions.
There you have it mama! A very thorough checklist to disinfect your house after the flu!
Related Post: 5 Immune Boosting Tips to Keep your Kids Healthy
We would love to hear from you! Do you bother disinfecting your house after the flu? Please comment below.