If you or someone in your household has recently gotten over a bug, cleaning house
is perhaps one of the last things on your mind between loading up on tissues and lemon tea. It shouldn't be, though: a person with a cold or the flu is often most contagious in the first few days of being sick, and the viruses they spread by sneezing, coughing or touching items around the house can survive for anywhere from two to eight hours—sometimes even as long as two days if the material is hard and nonporous.
Here are the five top places to clean after being sick, and a few ways to do it naturally
.Anything you get your hands on
That means all the things you touch routinely in your house: doorknobs, light switches, drawer handles and remote controls. A diluted mix of water and antimicrobial essential oils
, such as tea tree oil or thyme oil, can make a great spray-and-wipe solution. Be sure to check that you don't have skin reactions to the oil, and, in the case of tea tree, that you don't use it on items that might go in a child's mouth.
In 2011, the U.S.-based National Science Foundation found that, of all the rooms in a home, the kitchen was the hottest spot for germs
and bacteria. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, but those mugs and spoons you're using while sick will find their way to the kitchen, too. Putting them through your dishwasher's ultra-hot sanitize cycle (if it has one, and if the items are dishwasher-safe) should do the trick.The bathroom
After being sick, your first move should be to replace your toothbrush. If it's brand new and you'd hate to throw it out, dip it in boiling water for a minute or two, then let cool completely. Placing it in the microwave or dishwasher, however, can damage the toothbrush.
Sinks and tubs will need a wash. The much-touted vinegar-and-baking-soda combo
is definitely good for scrubbing, and stronger when heated, but hydrogen peroxide is better at killing germs. Just be sure to use it in solutions of lower than three percent. For hard floors and tiled surfaces, invest in a steamer. The bedroom
You'll likely have spent most of your sick days here, and in your pyjamas. Run your linens, duvet covers, and sick clothes through a hot wash, and change them often.Your cleaning equipment
"It's important to ensure rags, mops, etc. are clean and disinfected prior to use to avoid the further spread of germs," says Emmanuel Rey, founder and president of EnviroMaid and EcoClean cleaners in Toronto. Run sponges, rags and cloths through the sanitize cycle in your washer or boil them, and never borrow a vacuum cleaner from another household. "When it comes to vacuums, germs can spread very quickly," says Rey.
We have lots more tips on staying healthy during cold and flu season
, including what immunity-boosting foods
you should eat.