Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Home Sweet Home: Disinfecting the House after the Flu

Well, no posts here in a while because we've been held hostage by a particularly virulent strain of stomach flu. Explosive, unpredictable, double-ended. Enough said.

I, not completely over it yet, am trying to begin sanitizing the house. Since I'm a novice in the cleaning-up-after-sickness business, I googled it, as you might have expected from me. eHow had a nice rundown on the basics of house disinfecting. A lot of that was obvious and I was doing it as a matter of course - WASH YOUR HANDS, keep the sick person in one area of the house, take out the trash, wash the soiled linens in hot water, clean the bathroom, use a bleach solution to disinfect all surfaces, wash dishes used by the sick person, etc, etc. I am not sure why I was the very last to get sick yet I was the one up all night with the sick little ones. I'm sure I washed my hands at least 100 times a day (not exaggerating!) and used hand sanitizer in between... my hands are red and chapped to prove it. But that doesn't negate the fact that I was vomitted near and occasionally on. Gross but unavoidable when you've got 3 under 4 and they're all losing their dinner at the same time.

So, after checking off the basics, I still had all of the kids' toys that have nooks and crannies in which lurk the seeds of contagion. So I had another search to do. had an article about sanitizing toys which was somewhat useful. Most results dealt with cleaning toys in a commercial daycare center setting, but were still informative about some methods of cleaning hard-to-sanitize items. Fisher-Price also had similar information, but was more geared to family home settings.

Summing up the collective wisdom, I have decided to top-rack dishwash the Duplos and other small plastic toys in a mesh bag (the kind you might use to keep your unmentionables from floating all over in the washing machine). Haven't done it yet since we're not 100% better, but it will happen. I'll post more if something unexpected happens there.

I will also be borrowing my mother-in-law's carpet cleaner to clean a particularly unlucky part of our living room rug (and hopefully other carpets that need it anyway). I am going to get some sort of surface/air sanitizer to spray the rest of the kids' toys that can't go in the dishwasher (Yay Lysol!). I'll be cleaning the bathrooms (again!), washing the bathroom rugs (again!) and changing everybody's sheets (again!). And, even though it's below freezing here right now, I'm insanely entertaining the idea of opening up the house for a half hour or so with the attic fan on just to move some fresh air through our house.

But right now, I'm going to go lie down because I'm tired just thinking about all of the cleaning I'll be doing when I feel better. Not particularly fun, but a real necessity if we ever hope to entertain at our house again. It'll be worth it.


Betsy said...

I just found this! I knew you were a creative genius, but...well, wow! :) As always, you've inspired me to attempt some pitiful replication of your irreproducable-by-mere-mortals creations. BTW, we use the hat and quilt ALL THE TIME with Iain, and absolutely love love love them both. Thanks so much for such a wonderful gift! :)

Kelly said...

"I'm sure I washed my hands at least 100 times a day (not exaggerating!) and used hand sanitizer in between... my hands are red and chapped to prove it."

My house has the flu right now too :( Althought this looks like a very old blog post, I still wanted to share what my pediatrician told us: Your hands MUST be moisturized after washing. If you hands are cracked, red, chapped, etc, then the bacteria/virus can hide out in the cracks.

Keep washing hands, but try to keep hand lotion next to the sink too!

Joan Price said...

Thanks the share! I know hospitals use a Glutaraldehyde solution to disinfect all of their equipment during flu season and apparently it is extremely effective. Does anyone know of any household products made from glutaraldehyde?