How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home When Somebody Gets Sick

Being ill is bad enough, but when sickness goes through your entire household, it makes everybody miserable. Prevent the spread of germs and illnesses by tackling this list of dirty surfaces you should clean when somebody in your home is or has been sick.

You’ve either heard the horror stories or you’ve lived through them.

It all starts with one person catching some kind of nasty virus. They spend a couple of days suffering through the illness, then somebody else starts having symptoms. Pretty soon it’s “off to the races” and the entire household is sick and miserable.

You consider yourself lucky when it’s one-and-done and doesn’t take a second shot at everybody.

But what if you could have stopped it at that first miserable soul? Here are the best ways to clean your home to prevent the spread of illness.

How Viral Illnesses Spread

A viral sickness like the flu generally affects the respiratory system. According to the CDC, viral illnesses generally spread through tiny germ-filled droplets that are expelled when a sick person, sneezes, coughs, talks, etc. EEEWWW right!

These germy little droplets can fly straight into your mouth, nose, and eyes. They can also be transferred when you touch a contaminated surface, then touch your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

You’re grossing out right now, but it happens all the time. And now that I told you, you’ll notice it EVERY time you’re around a sick person.

Never fear, there are some things you can do to minimize or eliminate your exposure to these nasty germs.

little boy with the flu resting in bed

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Wash Your Hands

The best prevention is to remove the germs, and the easiest way to do that is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Especially if you’re in a public place or around somebody who’s sick.

You don’t need hand sanitizer, regular handsoap is sufficient. It’s more about the way you wash your hands.

Make sure they are covered with soap and scrub for at least twenty seconds. Scrub your entire hand up to your writs, including in between your fingers and under your nails. Don’t forget to wash underneath any jewelry you might be wearing.

After twenty seconds, rinse your hands thoroughly, then dry. Do not touch the dirty faucet handles with your clean hands. Use some kind of barrier between your hands and the faucet.

Dollar Tree hand towels or disposable towels are a good choice. I also find that a cheap washcloth is sufficient for one-time use, plus they can be washed and re-used.

Keep Your Distance

Keep your distance from any person exhibiting symptoms of illness. Since these viruses travel through droplets, the closer you are to a sick person, the higher your exposure risk is.

Generally, six feet should be sufficient for holding a conversation. If the person you’re talking to is sneezing or coughing, it’s probably best to save the conversation for later and get out of there.

Maybe get them some hot soup, but drop that stuff and run!!! A germy, virus-packed sneeze can travel up to 200 feet, Yikes!


weekly cleaning checklist on a tablet

Join thousands of VIPs for cleaning, decluttering, and organizing tips sent straight to your inbox. As a welcome gift, we’ll send you this FREE printable Weekly Cleaning Checklist that lists exactly what to deep clean in every room of your home.

Stop Touching Your Face

You do it, and way more often than you think. It’s one of those things you do automatically and subconsciously.

You rub your lip, pick at your teeth, and wipe your eyes, several times a day. Each one of those touches is an opportunity to transfer virus germs into your system.

If you do need to touch your face, wash your hands thoroughly before and after.

Limit Exposure to the Sick Person

What I really mean is to isolate the sick person, but that sounds so harsh.

Try to limit the exposure and spread of germs by having the ill person use only the necessary spaces of your home.

If the sick family member can use only the bathroom and bedroom until the virus runs its course, you’ll have two rooms to worry about keeping clean, instead of the entire house. Plus there will be less chance that somebody else will get sick.

You might even consider giving up the master bedroom to a sick kid if it means keeping the rest of the family healthy because they aren’t sharing the same bathroom.

The second part of limiting the exposure is having one person be the point of contact during the illness or flu.

Preferably the person who’s most diligent about keeping their distance, not touching contaminated surfaces, and properly washing their hands. Yep, that’s probably you, you lucky girl!

Disinfect Hard Surfaces

Hard surfaces are a prime place for flu and virus germs to sit and wait for their next victim. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of these surfaces will help keep you healthy.

The CDC states that normal cleaning and disinfecting practices are adequate measures to remove and kill the germs.

As a general rule, most disinfectants need to stay moist on a surface for three to five minutes to effectively kill and eliminate germs and bacteria. That being said, always follow the directions on the packaging and for your particular surfaces.

*** Pro Tip: Get rid of the sponges! They stay damp and are a petri dish of germs from every surface you have cleaned.

woman cleaning granite countertop

Recommended Disinfectants

Here are some DIY solutions and product recommendations that I use in my home.

Don’t forget to test a hidden spot before using new products or DIY cleaners on your surfaces.

Never mix certain DIY household chemicals because they can create toxic solutions.

Hard Surfaces to Disinfect

Here’s a list of the hard surfaces you need to make sure you’re cleaning organized by room. Remember to leave the disinfectant on for the recommended length of time.


  • door handles
  • light switches
  • drawer pulls/knobs
  • cabinet handles/knobs
  • toilet lid/seat
  • toilet handle
  • sinks
  • faucets
  • soap dispenser
  • countertops
  • shower door handle
  • shower faucet
  • toothbrush
  • hairbrush
  • styling tools
  • makeup brushes

Here’s a step-by-step guide to deep clean the entire bathroom?


  • door handles
  • light switches
  • drawer pulls/knobs
  • alarm clock
  • lamp switches
  • perfume/cologne bottles
  • toys
  • video games
  • garbage can
  • laundry hamper

Try this checklist for deep cleaning your bedroom.


  • door handles
  • light switches
  • cabinet handles/knobs
  • drawer pulls/knobs
  • countertops
  • refrigerator/freezer door handle
  • stove/oven temperature knobs
  • oven door handle
  • microwave door handle
  • microwave control panel
  • dishwasher door handle
  • dishwasher control panel
  • sink
  • faucet
  • soap dispenser
  • garbage can

Here’s our checklist for deep cleaning your kitchen.

Living Room

  • door handles
  • light switches
  • lamp switches
  • drawer pulls/knobs
  • remote controls

Deep clean your living room with this how-to process.

Laundry Room

  • door handles
  • light switches
  • washing machine door
  • dryer door
  • cabinet handles/knobs
  • drawer pulls/knobs
  • laundry basket


  • phones
  • tablets
  • purses
  • backpacks
  • glasses
  • electronic chargers


weekly cleaning checklist on a tablet

Join thousands of VIPs for cleaning, decluttering, and organizing tips sent straight to your inbox. As a welcome gift, we’ll send you this FREE printable Weekly Cleaning Checklist that lists exactly what to deep clean in every room of your home.

Sanitize Fabric Surfaces

Fabric surfaces and linens can hold onto germs too, especially if they’re a bit damp. Sanitize all soft surfaces that have been exposed to the virus.

Some of the stuff can be thrown in the washer and washed on the sanitize cycle with an antibacterial soap. The rest will have to be sprayed down. Do a spot test in a hidden spot before using the disinfectant on the entire surface.

Sanitize in the washing machine

Launder linens on the sanitize cycle using a laundry disinfectant.

  • sheets
  • comforters
  • blankets
  • pillows
  • pillowcases
  • clothing
  • stuffed animals
  • rug
  • towels
  • washcloths
  • curtains

Spray to disinfect

Use a good antibacterial spray to completely wet the fabric surface and let it dry naturally.

  • couches
  • chairs
  • mattresses
  • footstools

Clear the Air

Air gets stagnant when the house or certain rooms are kept closed up.

Change your furnace air filter and open up the windows to air out the rooms. The stale air can actually contribute to the person not feeling well.

Even 15 minutes can make a huge difference.

Clean Your Car

If the sick person has traveled at all, don’t forget to clean out your car. You can disinfect the surfaces just like the household ones. Here’s a list of the things you’ll need to clean.

  • door handle (inside and out)
  • seat belt
  • gear shift
  • steering wheel
  • mirrors
  • center console
  • phone chargers
  • control panels

Cleaning to Prevent the Spread of Illness

Keeping your hands and the surfaces in your home clean and disinfected will greatly reduce the spread of viral sicknesses that can affect your entire family.

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