How to Properly Clean After a Household Illness

Getting through an illness is hard enough without having to worry about keeping your home clean and sanitary. Proper cleaning is essential after anyone in the household has been sick to help prevent the spread of illness and contamination. We will discuss best practices for cleaning up after various household illnesses, from common colds and flu to more serious contagious diseases. Follow these comprehensive cleaning guides to keep your home fresh, sanitize surfaces, wash fabrics properly, and ensure every family member stays healthy.

Supplies Needed for Post-Illness Cleaning

Before diving into cleaning methods for specific illnesses, it helps to gather the proper supplies. Having these items ready will make the cleaning process faster and more effective. Here are some essentials to have on hand:

  • Disinfectant cleaners: Look for EPA-approved disinfectants that can kill illness-causing germs. Good options include Lysol or Clorox wipes and sprays.
  • Bleach: Unscented bleach can be diluted with water to make a strong disinfecting solution. Always check the label for proper ratios.
  • Kitchen cleaners: Illnesses often spread through contaminated hands and food, so stock up on antimicrobial hand and dish soaps.
  • Laundry supplies: Pick up laundry sanitizer and oxygenated bleach to wash bedding, clothes, and other fabrics.
  • Mops, sponges, buckets: Have these cleaning tools ready for washing hard surfaces. Disposable paper towels also come in handy.
  • Gloves: Wear washable cleaning gloves to protect yourself from germs as you clean. Masks provide extra protection.
  • Trash bags: Properly contain and dispose of used tissues, masks, cleaning supplies, and other waste.

With the right cleaning agents and gear, you can tackle sanitizing the house after any illness. Next we’ll review detailed steps for post-illness cleaning.

Cleaning After Common Cold or Flu

Colds and influenza (flu) are highly contagious respiratory illnesses often spread through direct contact or airborne virus particles from coughing and sneezing. Meticulous cleaning is crucial after anyone in the household has the cold or flu to prevent further spread. Follow these guidelines:

Clean and Disinfect All Surfaces

  • Use EPA-approved disinfectant wipes, sprays, or prepared solutions to sanitize all high-touch surfaces, including:
    • Doorknobs, handles, light switches
    • Kitchen and bathroom faucets and sinks
    • Countertops, tabletops
    • Toilets, toilet handles
    • Remote controls, phones, tablets
    • Any other electronics used by the sick person
  • Allow surfaces to remain wet with disinfectant for 5-10 minutes before wiping dry for maximum effectiveness.

Wash Fabrics Thoroughly

  • Machine wash all linens, bedding, towels, and plush toys with hot water. Add laundry disinfectant or oxygen bleach.
  • Wash clothes, pajamas, and other fabrics worn by the ill person using hot water and laundry sanitizer.
  • Use the highest heat setting possible for the fabric type when drying laundry.

Clean Floors

  • Use a disinfecting floor cleaner or prepared bleach solution to mop hard surface floors.
  • Vacuum then use antimicrobial cleaner on carpets and rugs. Throw away the vacuum bag after use.
  • Place disinfectant mats at room entrances to prevent tracking germs through the house.

Remove Trash Carefully

  • Wear gloves when disposing of used tissues, masks, and other waste.
  • Place trash in sealed bags before removing from the room to avoid dispersing virus particles.
  • Empty all wastebaskets used by the sick person daily.

Maintain Proper Hygiene

  • Advise the ill person to wear a face mask around others at home.
  • Everyone in the household should wash hands frequently with antimicrobial soap, especially before eating.
  • Keep hand sanitizer stocked for use after coughing, sneezing, or blowing nose.

With diligent surface disinfecting, laundering, hand hygiene, and other cleaning steps, your household can stay healthy after colds or flu.

Deep Cleaning After Stomach Bug or Diarrhea

Gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses like norovirus can spread quickly through improper hygiene and contamination. Follow these intensive cleaning tips after anyone has a stomach bug or diarrhea:

Use Bleach-Based Disinfectant

Norovirus and other GI illnesses can linger on surfaces. Sanitize with a diluted bleach-based cleaning solution:

  • Mix 1 cup bleach per 1 gallon of cool water for an effective disinfecting ratio.
  • Use the bleach solution to thoroughly wipe down bathroom and kitchen surfaces.
  • Scrub areas that may contain traces of vomit or feces. Let the bleach solution soak for 10 minutes before rinsing.

Wash Fabrics and Linens

  • Immediately remove and wash contaminated clothing, towels, and linens after a vomit or diarrhea accident.
  • Wash laundry using hot water and oxygen bleach or other sanitizing agents.
  • Use high heat for drying to eliminate any remaining germs.

Clean Carpets and Upholstery

  • Blot wet stains immediately with paper towels. Carefully remove any solid matter.
  • Spray or blot stain with carpet cleaner containing bleach alternative or enzymatic cleaner.
  • Steam clean carpets and upholstered furniture once stains are treated.

Disinfect Bathroom Surfaces

  • Scrub the toilet, lid, handle, rim, seat, tank, and floor around the toilet using disinfecting cleaners or bleach solution.
  • Disinfect countertops, faucets, sinks, showers, and bathtubs with bleach solution or bathroom cleaning spray.
  • Restock hand soap and toilet paper rolls after disinfecting.

Maintain Proper Hand Hygiene

  • Wash hands immediately after using the bathroom or assisting someone who is ill.
  • Make sure soap and hand sanitizer is stocked for use after handling contaminated items.

With diligent disinfecting using bleach, washing items, and hygiene, your household can stay healthy after stomach viruses.

Cleaning After Contagious Respiratory Diseases

Illnesses like COVID-19, pertussis, and RSV spread through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or close contact. Meticulous cleaning and disinfection is key to prevent further household transmission after a respiratory illness.

Use Respirator or Mask

  • Wear an N95 respirator or high-filtration mask when cleaning areas used by the sick person.
  • This protects against inhaling airborne virus particles while cleaning.

Focus on High-Touch Surfaces

  • Prioritize disinfecting any surfaces frequently touched by the infected person. Use EPA-approved products.
  • Allow proper wet contact time for the disinfectants to work before wiping down.
  • Pay special attention to disinfecting shared spaces like kitchens and bathrooms.

Contain and Remove Trash Carefully

  • Dispose of used tissues, masks, and other contaminated waste in sealed bags.
  • Wear gloves when handling trash bags and dispose of immediately.
  • Use lined trash cans with lids to help avoid dispersing respiratory droplets.

Wash Fabrics Thoroughly

  • Use laundry disinfectant and the hottest water setting to wash bedding, towels, and clothing used by the sick person.
  • Dry laundry completely on the highest heat setting appropriate for the fabric.

Maintain Cleaning Routine

  • Continue diligent surface disinfecting, hand hygiene, and protective equipment use until the household member fully recovers.

With proper precautions, cleaning products, and laundry disinfection, your household can stay healthy after contagious respiratory illnesses.

Cleaning After Head Lice

An infestation of head lice spreads quickly through close head-to-head contact. Follow these steps to eliminate lice and nits after infestation:

Treat Those Affected

  • Apply medicated lice treatment shampoo or lotion as directed. Be sure to follow instructions carefully.
  • Use a nit comb thoroughly after treatment to remove nits and any remaining live lice.
  • Repeat treatments as needed until lice and nits are eliminated.

Contain Infected Items

  • Place contaminated items like hats, towels, brushes, and bedding into sealed plastic bags to contain lice.
  • Wash items sealed in bags using hot water and laundry sanitizer before reusing.

Clean Upholstery and Carpets

  • Thoroughly vacuum carpets, couches, and other upholstered areas in the home. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Use a lice spray registered by the EPA to treat fabric surfaces and allow proper contact time before vacuuming again.

Disinfect Other Surfaces

  • Use disinfectant wipes or sprays made for use against lice to wipe down surfaces in common areas and the bathroom.
  • Pay special attention to areas like countertops and sinks.

Maintain Prevention Habits

  • Avoid head-to-head contact until all family members have been checked and cleared.
  • Do not share hats, hair accessories, brushes, towels and other personal items once treated.

With proper treatment, containment, and disinfection, you can eliminate a lice infestation at home. Be sure to check the whole household.

Cleaning After MRSA Infection

MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection often spread through skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. Follow these guidelines after a household member has been diagnosed with MRSA:

Use Protective Gear

  • Wear disposable gloves, mask, and gown while cleaning areas used by the infected person. This prevents contact spread.
  • Avoid cross-contaminating surfaces by changing gloves and gown after cleaning the infected person’s room or bathroom.

Clean and Disinfect Thoroughly

  • Use EPA-approved disinfectants effective against MRSA (label should specify).
  • Follow all label instructions closely, allowing proper wet contact time.
  • Focus on disinfecting high-touch surfaces in bathrooms, bedroom, and shared areas.

Contain and Wash Infected Fabrics

  • Avoid shaking sheets or laundry to prevent dispersing bacteria.
  • Wash bedding, towels, and clothing used by infected person separately using hot water and laundry sanitizer.
  • Use high heat for drying laundry.

Maintain Proper Bandaging

  • Advise the infected person to properly wrap and bandage wounds to avoid contact spread.
  • Contain and dispose of soiled bandages carefully using gloves.

With diligent surface disinfecting, laundering, and protective equipment, the household can stay healthy after MRSA infection.

General Tips for Post-Illness Cleaning

Beyond illness-specific guidelines, keep these general tips in mind:

  • Ventilate rooms – Open windows to air out and ventilate spaces before and while cleaning.
  • Use separate supplies – Designate mops, sponges, etc. only for use in contaminated areas. Discard after or disinfect thoroughly.
  • Focus on bedrooms and bathrooms – Prioritize more vigorous cleaning in rooms used by the sick family member.
  • Wear gloves and masks – Protect yourself from germs and chemicals.
  • Wash hands frequently – Clean hands immediately after cleaning, handling contaminated items, before eating, etc.
  • Shower after cleaning – Shower and change clothing to avoid carrying germs from cleaning into clean areas.
  • Call a professional if needed – For severe infestations or cleaning large public places, consider hiring professional disinfection services.

With the proper supplies, sanitizing techniques, and protective gear, you can clean effectively and safely after any contagious illness in your household. Consult a doctor for personal health questions. Stay healthy!

Frequently Asked Questions About Post-Illness Cleaning

Cleaning up after sickness can bring up many questions. Here are some common FAQs about keeping your household sanitized after illness:

How long after illness should you keep cleaning?

It’s ideal to maintain cleaning, disinfecting, and laundering procedures for at least 1-2 weeks after illness or until all household members have fully recovered. Some germs and viruses can linger on surfaces for extended periods.

Should cleaning supplies be kept separate after illness?

Yes, it’s best to use separate cleaning tools like mops, sponges, and rags for areas occupied by sick persons. Keep them separate from supplies used for general cleaning of healthy household areas.

Can I use rubbing alcohol to disinfect?

Rubbing alcohol typically does not effectively kill illness-causing germs and viruses. It’s better to use EPA-approved disinfectants and follow label directions closely.

How should I clean a carpet after illness?

Spot clean stains immediately, then use a carpet steamer or shampoo machine once the person recovers. Disinfectant sprays can be used but may not penetrate deeply into carpets. Vacuum daily.

What temperature should I wash laundry?

For bedding, towels, clothes, and other fabric items used by an ill person, it’s ideal to wash in hot water around 140°F or higher if recommended, and dry using the highest heat setting appropriate for the material.

When can someone use a shared bathroom after illness?

It’s best to wait 3-5 days after symptoms resolve before opening up shared bathrooms. During illness, the sick person should use a separate bathroom if possible. Disinfect thoroughly before each use.

How do I disinfect upholstered furniture?

Spot clean stains immediately on upholstery, then use a steam cleaner once illness resolves. Do not use harsh chemicals. Open windows and allow proper drying time to prevent mold growth. Vacuum daily.

Proper cleaning is crucial for preventing illness transmission within households. Follow the recommendations here and consult public health guidelines for optimal disease prevention at home.

Key Takeaways for Cleaning After Illness

Cleaning up after sickness helps stop germs in their tracks. Keep these top tips in mind:

  • Stock up on disinfectants, bleach, gloves, and other cleaning supplies.
  • Use EPA-approved products and follow label directions closely.
  • Allow proper wet contact time for disinfectants to work.
  • prioritize cleaning bedrooms, bathrooms, and shared spaces.
  • Wash bedding, towels, and fabrics using hot water and sanitizer.
  • Contain contaminated items carefully before washing.
  • Wear gloves, masks, gowns for protection when cleaning.
  • Maintain cleaning procedures for 1-2 weeks after illness subsides.

With diligence, protective measures, and proper sanitizing techniques, you can keep your household healthy after sickness. Prevent the spread of illness and contamination using these comprehensive cleaning guides.