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).


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.


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.


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


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Naomi780 Naomi780

Kitchen towels, dish cloths, etc should be changed daily. Personally, I add bleach to my kitchen and bath towels to help sanitize. Toothbrushes can also be put through the dishwasher before you're ready to throw them out. It is a good idea to air out the house, but also think about running a humidifier during the heating season. Humidity in the home should be 35 to 40 % to keep the respiratory tract moist. Clean out your humidifier according to the instructions. High humidity (like 65%) can grow molds, bacteria and dust mites.

Good handwashing is the single most important thing to prevent the spread of disease. Simple soap and water. Wash your hands, scrubbing long enough to sing "happy birthday" two times. Intact skin (non-chapped, so use lotion) prevents the entry of germs into the body.


Wingra3 Wingra3

I disinfect the laundry basket so I don't put clean, sanitized sheets back into the contaminated basket I started with.  Also, make sure to wash hands after putting those sheets in the washing machine.  


Don't forget to wash down all door knobs as well.

tazdvl tazdvl

I wash the kids toys, the 2 year old doesn't always cover her mouth yet and still sticks some toys in her mouth.

sodapple sodapple

not much but i make sure everything is clean.


We don't get family sicknesses.  At least we haven't in the eleven years we have been a family.  I make a point of keeping things clean,  make sure we are eating right,  getting enough sleep, and if someone does get sick I do clean the house really well.

Sultr... SultryLadyBug

I do a decontamination after anyone is sick because I am the only one that cleans. So while I am sick its a danger zone.

Momfo... Momforhealth

Yes you bet.  I wash everything kid level and grown up level.  Light swtiches, door knobs, walls and railings..keyboard, game controlers, remotes, ...I even wipe down the outside of the books the kids get from school or the library....don't  forget to disinfect the laundry baskets too..  especially if you use them to carry your clean folded clothes after you used them to carry your dirty the washer machine. 


Paula... PaulaB830

I SHALL TELL YOU TE WORSE CASE     the cold and flu    as I am into my 3rd week,     so not fun-

putting damper on my preparations to get baptised with Church of latter Day Saints-   long story-

lessons home   and sundays are so not like our child hood days of ROman Catholic  witch is where this actually come to be-     get   check up  and  you may need antibiotic    over the counter stuff  is not where to start-----  but popsicles   mr noodles   and vapo rub   under your nose,    and some on chest

if needed......look after YOU      they broke the mold   or  mould  when you came about   lol

Paula Brown   

ceciliam ceciliam

I keep things clean as we go along. Luckily, none of get sick very often.

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