We all know that winter months are prime season for the flu. Unfortunately, this year’s is shaping up to be the deadliest flu America’s seen in decades. The CDC is unsure when this season will end, but says that “everything we are looking at is bad news.” So, let’s talk about protecting ourselves and kiddos to the best of our ability with Sofia’s guide for disinfecting your home during flu season.
Flu germs can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. It’s unlikely that you have surfaces that can withstand 167° F heat – and a device that generates that kind of heat – which effectively kill flu germs. Instead, to disinfect you’ll need to turn to common household cleaning products like hydrogen peroxide (the green option) or commercial disinfectants like bleach (which can be harmful to both humans and the environment).
Although it is a fabulous cleaning solution, Sofia’s is not a disinfectant. When if comes to the flu – especially this killer flu – we recommend using Sofia’s only to pre-clean and post-clean surfaces for a shiny finish. Hydrogen peroxide is your best disinfecting friend. Hydrogen peroxide is the safest household disinfectant and one of the only green options for disinfecting flu germs (ammonia, chlorine and vinegar are not effective disinfectants against Staph and Influenza bacteria). Hydrogen peroxide has antimicrobial ingredients and is also highly biodegradable. Concentrated hydrogen peroxide, however, is extremely dangerous and should only be used as a disinfectant at concentrations lower than 3 percent.
Note: If using a pre-packaged/commercial disinfectant, make sure to read instructions (and use accordingly). If using household supplies like hydrogen peroxide, understand the diluting instructions. Surfaces should be pre-cleaned prior to disinfecting. Use paper towels, disposable wipes or a washable towel to clean surfaces, versus a sponge which tends to spread more germs.
The Basics (Flu or No Flu)
Everyone in the house should be washing hands with soap frequently during the winter (especially if flu is in your house). Try to spend about 20 seconds washing hands with soap and hot water. Use disposable paper towels to dry hands (or dedicate a hand towel per person).
Giving the house a deep cleaning once a month during the winter months is a great way to lesson the germ count. Clean the floors, bathrooms, kitchens, door handles, soap dispensers, linens, any surface that humans touch daily. Then spend some time once a week doing a quick, but thorough, once over. Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down surfaces, sink and door handles daily.
The Nitty Gritty (Disinfecting Post-Flu)
If someone has recently had the flu in your house, here’s what you should focus on cleaning once the virus is kicked.
Bedding, Pillows, Blankets + Sick Clothes
Germs naturally cover our bedding, blankets and clothes when we’re sick. Not only are we rubbing our noses, sneezing and coughing our germs right into sheets and long sleeves – we also sweat more when sick. So once on the mend, gather the linens and clothes that were used during the illness. Wash everything on the highest heat that instructions allow for (and don’t overload the washing machine). You can add hydrogen peroxide to each load to kill germs (bonus, it brightens as well). Keep in mind the washing water is not going to be hot enough to kill germs, but high heat dryer cycles can.
Mattresses and Pillows
Spritz (don’t saturate) the bed and pillows with hydrogen peroxide as you wait for the wash cycle to be done. If there are windows in the bedroom, open the blinds and windows (weather permitting) and let the room air out. Sunlight helps to mitigate germs and the air flow will help freshen up the room. Be sure to let the mattress and pillows dry fully before making the bed with fresh linens.
You should replace toothbrushes every three months or so, and after any cold or illness that can spread germs. This rule obviously applies to apres flu as well. If you have a Sonicare or another electric toothbrush, you can change the brush or soak the germ-ified bristle head in hydrogen peroxide (enough to completely submerge the bristles) for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water.
Stuffed Animals and Toys
Stuffed animals should join bedding, towels and clothes in the hydrogen peroxide laundry cycle. Alternately, you can steam or give them an HP spritz if they are too delicate to run through the wash. You can use a steamer on hard toys as well, or soak them in hydrogen peroxide. You can also use a mesh bag to clean them in the dishwasher.
Clean bathrooms, kitchens, door handles, light switches, soap dispensers – any surface that humans touch daily in your house – with hydrogen peroxide and paper towels (or disinfecting wipes). For counters, sinks, tubs and floors, give a quick post clean with Sofia’s Soy Cleaner mixed with a little essential oil for a fresh, bright, shiny space post sickness.
So there you have it, folks. Stay safe this flu season with Sofia’s tips on disinfecting your home during flu season. Hopefully, they’ll help keep the whole family healthy before the flu becomes an unwelcome guest in your house. From the Sofia’s family to yours, may health be with you.