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How to Disinfect Your House After the Flu

Learn how to properly clean your house after you have the flu.

Keeping a clean home is a priority for most people, no matter whether it is flu season or not. However, if you or a loved one have been sick with the flu, disinfecting the home is of the upmost importance in order to prevent further spread or infection. Disinfecting is defined as using chemicals to kill germs that may live on surfaces, whereas cleaning just removes germs and dirt from surfaces.1 In this article we explain how to disinfect your house after the flu, including tips like cleaning the counter tops, bed sheets, and other high-touch areas. 

How to Disinfect Hard Surfaces

There are numerous products you can use to clean surfaces in your home like warm water and soap, or even vinegar. Though using these products can help to remove dirt and other contaminants, it does not effectively kill germs.2 Various disinfectant products such as wipes and sprays are effective products that can help kill whatever germs are living on your surfaces.2 No matter what disinfectant products you choose to use, it is also important that you follow the correct techniques to thoroughly get rid of any germs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends spraying hard surfaces with the disinfectant, and then letting it sit for 10 minutes to effectively kill any living germs.2

How to Disinfect Soft Surfaces

If you’re wondering how to disinfect your home after the flu, then consider these other tips and recommendations. For soft surfaces such as carpet, rugs, and drapes, there are specific guidelines to follow so you do not damage the material. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using warm water and soap to first clean any soft surfaces that may be dirty. Then, you will want to find a disinfectant that is appropriate for whatever surface you’re trying to cover.3 If you decide to disinfect these soft surfaces, be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.

For household items like drapes, bed sheets, and pillow covers, the CDC recommends laundering them per the instructions of the manufacturer, and using the warmest temperature possible to really kill any germs.1 The CDC suggests handling dirty laundry from the sick person with care, using protective gear such as disposable gloves. If you do not have gloves, then washing your hands after touching any of these soft surfaces is highly suggested.1 Also, for other safety precautions, consider placing a trash bag inside your clothes hamper that could be thrown away or washed as a way to prevent the spread of germs.1

Other Tips & Considerations

When you disinfect your house after the flu, don't forget about electronics. Each day we’re engaging in technology using our phones, our laptops for work, or even picking up the remote to turn on the TV. The CDC recommends you use wipeable covers for electronics, like your cell phone, or sprays that contain 70% alcohol to disinfect screens that don’t have a protective screen.1 It’s very important to keep electronics in the house as sanitized as possible, as many people can touch these products without knowing who may or may not have touched them last. Consider keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer or disinfectant spray in common areas of the house so that others can easily keep their hands and surfaces clean.

If you or a loved one has the flu, it can stir up a lot of concern in the household as you try to protect the health of those around you. These tips and guidelines on how to disinfect your house after the flu are just a few of the many things you can do to keep your home germ-free. For more health tips, check out our resource center where you can find articles about cold and flu symptoms and more. 

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