Sick of Getting Sick? Close Down the Germ Factory

Healthy Living 25

sickWhat's worse than having the family down with a cold or the flu? Having the family down with the same bug two weeks later.

With one kid in school, one husband who works, and me working from home where I wallow in all the germs that they cart back to me with their "I'm home!" kisses, I'm forever nursing two people back to health only to sniffle the way through the following week. I'm putting the family on notice: the germ factory is closing down forthwith. We're going to decontaminate the house to clear out all these cold and flu germs ... and here's my guide to hitting all the hot spots (with a little medical advice from my mom, the nurse practitioner, to make sure we get it all).

Bedroom:

Does your bedroom look like the land that time forgot after a bout with the flu? We've got extra pillows for propping up the head to drain, tissues from one end of the room to the other, and a giant pile of DVDs and books for comfort. Alas, we can't just light a match and be done with it.

But we come pretty close. I strip the bedroom down to the bare bones. Sheets in a hot washing machine, tissues in the garbage (and hands washed after touching them). Everything else wiped down within an inch of its life (can a book have a life?) and put back where it belongs. Come to think of it, it's the one time of year I really clean my room -- the rest of the time I'm secure in the knowledge that no one's looking in there and it can be my messy haven.

Living room:

In my house, we tend to loll on the couch on sick days, watching TV and sucking down ginger ale. Pillows with removable cases are a must in a house with messy kids, and this works out for the best in cold and flu season. Cases are removed and thrown in a washing machine on the hot cycle along with blankets and our couch cover. 

The remainder of the couch is sprayed down with a disinfectant spray to kill any lasting germs, and I throw open the curtains (usually kept closed during the winter to retain the heat) to let the sun hit it. Every little bit helps. If it's a warmer winter day, I'll even prop open the windows to get some fresh air circulating again.

While you're in there, wipe down the phone and the TV remote with a rag coated in your favorite disinfectant. They've been hacked on all week. You might as well grab your cell phone and give it a good scrub while you're at it.

Kitchen:

The dish towels have got to go. Good hygiene tends to go out the window when you're feeling punky, and you never know who was using them to wipe their snotty hands after a sneeze. The moist towels are a breeding ground for bacteria. Next, hit the handle of your fridge with a good disinfectant. In a University of Virginia study, cold germs were discovered on the handle at least 40 percent of the time.

While you're in there, clear all the dishes out and tackle the sink itself. The germs left behind on the soup bowls and water glasses sat in there while the family was too exhausted to clean them, and they spread easily.

Bathroom:

You usually get three months out of a decent toothbrush before the American Dental Association says to kick it, but I don't think it's worth it. Change them out. Now. The same goes for the towels. It doesn't matter if you're a "one towel a week" kind of family. The extra laundry is priceless when you consider your health.

Then start wiping. Everything. Don't forget the garbage can that people vomited in and the bath tub that your hubby almost fell asleep in.

Do you do a complete decontamination of the house after a family sickness?


Image via Mishio/Flickr

cold & flu, illness