7 Ways to Disinfect a Home With Sick Kids

Judy Dutton | Oct 1, 2014 Big Kid

woman disinfecting a countertop

It's hard enough when your kids are sick, hacking and wheezing and curled up with a fever in bed. Only in addition to alleviating their misery, parents are also faced with doing damage control. After all, you don't want other family members catching it or for your kids to reinfect themselves with the same ailment after their ordeal is over. Luckily, though, you don't have to hire a HAZMAT team to disinfect your home. Just try a few of these easy expert-approved tips to curb the spread of germs.

mopping a floor

What do you do to disinfect your home when your kids are sick?

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  • Keep Your Kid Confined to One Area


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    First things first: Why clean the whole house if you can stick to cleaning just a few key rooms? That's why you should consider containing your sick child to one area of the house to minimize the amount you have to clean. "While this may be easier said than done, depending on the child, it will help with infection control," says Kristie Rivers, MD, a pediatrician at Bundoo.com, which connects parents with doctors online. "For example, if your child has a bout of diarrhea, let him or her use only one toilet that no one else uses for the time being."

  • Use Disposable Products


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    For instance, paper plates instead of regular dishware, or paper towels instead of sponges. That way they can be easily thrown away after cleaning. "This will prevent cross-contamination to other parts of the house," says Rivers.

  • Sterilize Your Child's Toothbrush


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    "This is particularly important after your child has strep throat to prevent him or her from becoming reinfected with the same bacteria," says Rivers. "If you can't throw them out since you don’t have any new ones lying around, boiling them in hot water will do the trick as well."

  • Sterilize Your Kitchen Sponges


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    Kitchen sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria and often used on multiple surfaces. So do yourself a favor: Place them in the microwave on high for about a minute -- this will nuke most germs into oblivion.

  • Wash Your Kid's Clothes and Bedsheets


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    Few areas of the house will be more infested than your child's bed and clothes. "They are filled with germs," says Rivers. Be sure to wash everything in hot water -- not just warm, but hot -- to kill all the microbes hiding within.

  • Wash Your Washer


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    "After cleaning clothes, towels, and sheets infected by someone ill, keep the rest of the family healthy by cleaning your washing machine," advises Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid Cleaning Services. "Run an empty cycle on hot water and add bleach to the dispenser. Run an additional cycle to ensure the bleach is removed and consider adding an old towel or T-shirt to check for lingering spots."

  • Hit the High-Germ Zones


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    Use an antibacterial cleaner to wipe certain key surfaces: That includes doorknobs, countertops, toilets, light switches -- which can harbor up to 217 bacteria per square inch! And don't forget about your child's toys: Use an antibacterial cleaner to wipe down all toys your child may have touched. "Don’t forget remote controls, video game controls, and cellphones for the older kids," says Rivers. "The few extra minutes you will spend doing this will be well worth it in the end if you can prevent your other children and yourself from catching the infection."

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