Your guide to flu cleaning: How to disinfect the house after the flu

After the flu, it's important to rid your home from any remaining germs to prevent further illness. Find out how to clean after the flu with these flu cleaning tips. From the couch to bedding, here, you'll learn what to disinfect after the flu.

Updated 2 October 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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yellow box of tissues, brown knitted scarf, orange mug and blue hot water bottle on a wooden surface

After the flu, it's important to rid your home from any remaining germs to prevent further illness. Find out how to clean after the flu with these flu cleaning tips.

Whether it’s the normal strain of flu, the far more debilitating ‘man-flu’ version, or another nasty virus, illness can not only lay you low but also affect the whole household if germs are allowed to spread. While cleaning the house may not be the first thing you want to do once you’re back on your feet, it’s important to know how to clean after the flu and how to disinfect a room after the flu, or your whole house, to avoid the risk of others catching the virus.

There are some pretty obvious areas you’ll think to clean – kitchen surfaces, the bathroom, your now snot-covered bedside table – but there are lots of other important things to think about. How long do cold germs live on bedding? How to disinfect the couch after the flu? Follow these tips on flu cleaning to find out what to clean after the flu and the best way to do so to minimise the risk of further illness.

  • What to clean after the flu

    If you want to know how to disinfect the house after the flu, it’s important to remember to disinfect everything you may have come into contact with, not just the obvious areas. Flu germs can live up to three days on hard surfaces and so it’s important to know how to disinfect after the flu to avoid further illness for you or the people you live with.

    Follow these simple steps to help figure out how to disinfect a room after the flu, including all the bits you might not have considered:

    1. 1

      Step 1 – Cleaning the bedsheets

      When suffering from a virus, there is little else to do but to lie in bed and wait for it to pass. As a result, bedsheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers inevitably become a hotbed of germs. But how long do cold germs live on bedding?

      How long flu germs live on bedding partly depends on how you deal with your sheets. While viruses last longer on surfaces such as metal and plastic, it’s still important to wash your bedding once you’re feeling better – and, if possible, on a daily basis while you’re ill.

      Give them a machine wash, using your standard laundry detergent, at a high-temperature setting to help disinfect bedding. The same applies for pyjamas or nightwear and for used towels. Always follow the garment care labels. For tips on washing bedsheets and bed hygiene, read this simple guide.

    2. 2

      Step 2 – Cleaning loose items

      When thinking of how to clean after the flu, one often thinks about clothes and surfaces but forgets about items that have been picked up and used.

      For example, thermometers used to check your temperature when ill, are often packed away after use. At the very least, a thermometer should be wiped down with a disinfectant wipe. Ideally, it should be dipped into a hydrogen-peroxide-based product, for a more effective clean.

      Similarly, toothbrushes, although not shared, may transfer germs. They too can be dipped in peroxide. It is also a good idea to keep toothbrushes separate from each other, rather than in the same container, in order to avoid cross-contamination.

      Any devices that you may have used should also be cleaned as part of the routine for cleaning a house after the flu. The remote control, the mouse on the family computer or the telephone, for example, should be treated using a disinfectant spray. Spray should also be applied to the couch or armchair, if any time has been spent in the living room, in order to combat any germs that have taken root in the material – just read the directions to make sure that the product is safe for your surface.

      Find out more about how to disinfect your sofa after the flu by heading to this simple guide on how to clean furniture.

      SAFETY WARNING: Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

    3. 3

      Step 3 – Cleaning surfaces

      If you want to know how to kill flu germs fully from your house and disinfect after the flu, you need to retrace your steps and go over every surface with which you may have come into contact.

      How to disinfect after the flu: Use a disinfectant-based product like Domestos to go over all areas, including doorknobs, light switches and fridge and cupboard doors, as well as worktops, sinks and washbasins, toilet and bath, as well as hard and tiled floors.

      How to clean the house after the flu without cleaning products: As with a lot of cleaning questions, an alternative solution to cleaning products is a vinegar solution, as its acidic properties act on the germs and help disinfect after the flu. Hydrogen peroxide products will be even more effective at killing germs.

      A steamer can be used on flooring – although be certain beforehand that the flooring is of a material that will not be damaged by the steam.

General advice for cleaning after the flu

There is still work to be done even after cleaning after the flu. The sponges, cloths, and items used to do the cleaning will themselves have had germs transferred onto them and will need to be dealt with. The best advice would be to throw them away – it is more advisable to use disposable items such as paper towels. If not, then put the items in a washing machine as appropriate, and wash at a high temperature. 

Finally, an easy piece of advice for before, during and after flu: regular and thorough washing of hands will do wonders for avoiding the spreading of germs. Disinfectant products or normal soap can be used – what is more important is to do a thorough wash of 20-25 seconds, in order to dislodge all germs.

Also, open your windows! It may be chilly out, but the clean, fresh air will also help clear the room. And if it is sunny outside, the sun’s properties will also kill germs.

Cleaning the bathroom

Cleaning the bathroom after a bout of the flu is essential to prevent the spread of germs. Start by donning disposable gloves and ventilating the area by opening windows. Focus on high-touch surfaces such as faucet handles, doorknobs, light switches, and toilet flush handles. Use a disinfectant cleaner or a bleach solution, following product instructions carefully. Scrub the toilet, sink, and bathtub or shower thoroughly. Dispose of used tissues and other contaminated items in sealed bags. Launder towels and bathmats with hot water and detergent. Finally, remove and discard gloves, then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water to ensure a germ-free bathroom environment.

For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.

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