Here are some common home surfaces you should remember to clean to avoid colds, flus, viruses and other contagious illnesses.
Cold and flu season comes around every year, beginning in October and lasting as late as May. Even during the summer months, your household could be vulnerable to a host of other viral illnesses. But you don’t need to wash your entire house in bleach every day to protect your family from colds, flus, and other viral illnesses, even if someone in the home is already infected.
Of course, if someone in your home has contracted a viral illness, you should quarantine that person as best you can, limiting contact with other members of the household. If you’re caring for a sick person, you can protect yourself by wearing a mask while tending to them and washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after touching them and before touching anything else.
And, whether or not someone in your household is sick, you can protect your family from illness by disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in every room of the home. Make sure you use the best cleaning products for the job. Paper towels or disinfectant wipes are more effective than cloths or sponges. Use the right disinfectants, and make sure you’re using them properly.
Sinks, Faucets, Fixtures
If someone has a cold, flu or other viral illness, chances are good that surfaces in the bathroom they use will be contaminated. If you have more than one bathroom, you can protect the rest of the household by having the sick person use only one bathroom.
Disinfect the sink, faucets, taps, toilet and shower every day, or more often if you’re sharing the bathroom with a sick person. Be sure to sterilize the parts that are most often touched, like the flush lever on the toilet, the tap handle and the removable showerhead. Give the sick person their own hand and body towels to use to prevent the spread of infection if you’re sharing a bathroom with them.
Handles and Doorknobs
Door handles and knobs are frequently touched but not as frequently cleaned. Disinfect exterior and interior door knobs every day during cold and flu season, or any time you’re concerned about viral infection. If you have a mail slot and/or a door knocker, disinfect those every day, too. Make sure to disinfect drawer pulls and cupboard handles, too, as well as the handles on your refrigerator, oven, microwave, dishwasher, and other furniture and appliances.
When was the last time you disinfected your light switches? They’re often overlooked, but just like door knobs, they’re something everyone in your household probably touches multiple times a day. Disinfect them at least once a day.
Tables and Countertops
Disinfect kitchen countertops before and after preparing food, and dining room tables before and after eating. Don’t forget to wipe down the dining room chairs. Side tables, end tables and nightstands should be disinfected daily, too, especially in the sick person’s room.
Remotes and Devices
Television remotes, tablets, computers, smart phones, landline phones (if you still have one) and other devices can be vectors for disease. You should clean these devices daily, and if you’ve been out of the house during flu season, it’s a good idea to clean your smartphone and any other devices you touched during the day, like your smart watch, as soon as you get home. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning touch screen and LED screen devices, as common cleaners, like disinfectant wipes and rubbing alcohol, can damage these screens.
Laundry and Bedding
Protect your family from viral infections by cleaning laundry and bedding more often during cold and flu season, when someone is sick or at any other time when you’re concerned about the possibility of viral infection. A sick person’s bedding, towels and laundry should be considered contaminated, and you should wash these items in hot water with detergent and color-safe chlorine bleach. Carry potentially contaminated laundry and bedding in a laundry basket, rather than in your arms, and wash your hands after handling it.
Waste baskets should be lined with plastic bags and emptied every day, or more often as necessary. Disinfect the waste baskets themselves with a solution of ¼ cup of bleach in ¾ of a gallon of hot water. Wipe the solution on with a paper towel and let it dry for maximum effectiveness.
Hard surface floors should also be disinfected regularly, especially in a sick person’s room and in bathrooms. Use the same bleach and water solution you used to disinfect the wastebaskets, and let the floor air dry for at least two minutes. Disinfect the mop by letting it soak in the bleach solution for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Use the Right House Cleaning Supplies
When disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in your home, make sure to use the right cleaners and supplies. Some of the house cleaning supplies you need to kill colds, flus and viruses include:
- Chlorine bleach
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Disinfectant sprays like Lysol®
- Soaps and detergents
- Iodine-based antiseptics
Make sure you’re using disinfectants properly for maximum antiseptic benefits. Disinfectant sprays, like Lysol, should be left on the surface for at least three minutes in order to fully kill viruses. Ideally, you should wipe a surface with a disinfectant wipe, or spray it with an aerosol disinfectant, and allow it to dry on its own, but if you must wipe the surface, use a paper towel and throw it away afterward.
Viral infections can be frightening, especially if someone in your family is already vulnerable. But you’re not powerless to protect against infection. Safeguard your family by disinfecting commonly touched surfaces regularly — and, as always, don’t forget to wash your hands!