Household Things You NEED to Clean During Cold and Flu Season

What to clean in your house after being sick
credit: Ana Stanciu

Being sick is no fun. That's why prevention is the best medicine. If someone near you has been sick, don't forget that germs and viruses can live on surfaces for days—even weeks! Follow this cleaning advice to avoid being their next target. Even if no one has been sick, here are the secret places germs might be lurking, and the simple steps to disinfect your home and keep you healthy.

Tips

Use disinfectant wipes or a disinfecting spray with a paper towel or cloth. Avoid using sponges, which can just spread germs around. Wear cleaning gloves and wash hands when finished.

Sanitize the Bathroom

Cleaning bathroom and toothbrush
credit: Ana Stanciu

Cleaning the bathroom always has a certain ick factor, and chances are the bathroom is even germ-ier than usual after someone in the household has been sick. If you've been dealing with the flu or a stomach virus, use a diluted bleach mixture: ½ cup of chlorine bleach in a gallon of water.

Thoroughly clean the toilet, and don't forget to wipe down the handle. When you wash the sink, clean the faucet, counters, and anything else hands might have touched.

This includes hand towels and your toothbrush. You can soak the toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide, but after you've been sick is a great time to buy a replacement.

Clean the Kitchen

Cleaning kitchen counters
credit: Ana Stanciu

A lot goes on in the kitchen on a daily basis, so clean food prep areas as well as eating spots like tables and counters with a kitchen-safe disinfecting spray. Disinfect cutting boards and easily missed spots like stove knobs, refrigerator doors, coffee pots, and cabinet handles.

Clean the sink and faucet, and run any used dishes through the dishwasher's sanitize cycle. It's time to clean your sponge or, better yet, replace it.

Wash the Bedding

Wash bedding on high heat
credit: Ana Stanciu

Wash sheets, pillows, and other bedding on the hottest setting to kill germs, and tumble dry on a hot dryer setting. Do the same with the comfy PJs that were no doubt worn and any towels that were used. Deep-clean the mattress, too, if needed.

While you're in the bedroom, wipe down any bedside tables, lamp fixtures, alarm clocks, etc. If you can, open the bedroom windows to air out the room.

Clean Tech Devices

Cleaning tech devices
credit: Ana Stanciu

Phones, computers, and other tech devices are often left out of the cleaning routine. But the gross fact is that phones harbor more germs than a toilet seat. Ew. If your phone or tablet has a screen protector on it, you can use a 1:1 ratio of rubbing alcohol and water in a small spray bottle to disinfect the screen as well as the case and the back of the device. And don't forget the remote!

Wipe Down Common Touch Points

Cleaning common touch points after sickness
credit: Ana Stanciu

Think of the spots we all automatically touch, every day: door knobs, light switches, drawer handles, cupboards. Wipe these with a disinfecting wipe and let air dry.

A simple all-purpose spray with vinegar plus a few drops of tea tree oil is great for regularly spraying common touch points. No need to wipe it up; lightly spritz and let it air dry. The longer it sits on the surface, the more germs it can knock out.

Clean the Humidifier and Diffuser

Cleaning the diffuser
credit: Ana Stanciu

If you've been using a humidifier or a diffuser to help with congestion, it's a good idea to regularly change the water. This is a commonly overlooked appliance, but without regular cleaning, the water will just sit there, which is an invitation for bacteria growth. That's not what you want to be breathing in! Follow the manufacturer's advice for cleaning.

Washing stuffed animals
credit: Ana Stanciu

Clean Toys and Stuffed Animals

A favorite toy can provide a lot of comfort when a child is sick, but make sure it gets cleaned afterward! Wash stuffed animals in the washing machine on a gentle setting (put them in a pillow case if they're really fragile). Hard or plastic toys can go in the dishwasher.

Don't Forget the Car

The car is an area that often gets missed. Give the steering wheel and knobs a wipe-down. And if a child was sick, it's a good idea to clean their car seat and wash the lining.


Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber is the founder and editor of the beauty and wellness site, HelloGlow.co. She lives in Nashville with her husband and three children.