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When you’ve been sick, germs don’t just leave once you feel better. An infectious diseases doctor shares her best tips to help scour your space.

By: Dr. Alison Brodginski, infectious diseases specialist

Just because you or someone in your household gets sick, it doesn’t mean everyone has to get sick. Deep cleaning your house after a bout of illness can help kill viruses and germs and keep your family well.

And it’s easier than you’d think.

How to disinfect your home after an illness

We get it — the idea of having to sanitize your entire home can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to if you take it one step at a time:

  • Wipe down surfaces: Certain types of viruses, including the flu, can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Use bleach or a disinfectant spray to wipe down and sanitize the surfaces (especially the highly trafficked ones) in your home. This includes countertops, tables, doorknobs, faucets and even the remote. Clean everything, even if the person who was sick may not have touched it.
  • Wash your bedding: Change your pillowcases and wash your sheets and comforter in hot water. Do this for every bedroom of the house, not just for where the person who was sick sleeps.
  • Clean toys: Toys are notorious germ magnets. Wipe down all the toys in your home with a good disinfecting spray or bleach. Wash stuffed animals in hot water or put them inside a bag in your freezer to sanitize them.
  • Use disposable dishes: When someone in your household is sick, using paper plates and disposable cups can help reduce the spread of germs. Rather than leaving dishes in the kitchen after you’re done eating, you can simply throw them away.
  • Disinfect the air: Norovirus and other common germs can live in the air long after you or your family has been sick. Open the windows in your home to let sunlight and fresh air in. Additionally, spray the rooms in your home with a disinfecting spray to kill any viruses and germs lingering in the air.
  • Don’t forget the bed or couch: Use a steam cleaner on your couch or bed, particularly if someone has been throwing up. Clean up any mess that involves vomit or poop using paper towels and cleaning spray. Then, steam clean the couch or rugs to avoid contamination and destroy all bacteria.

One final (and important) point:

  • Wash your hands: After you use the bathroom, before you eat, after you eat, if you clean up after someone who’s sick, when you pet your fur babies — wash your hands. Spend a minimum of 20 seconds washing your hands, lathering up with soap and hot water. No soap around? You can also use hand sanitizer in-between washes.

 

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