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9 Important Cleaning Tips You Should Use After An Illness

Cleaning A House After An Illness - collage: unzipping a pillow cover; woman spraying and wiping a shelf; woman tossing a sponge in the trash

Why It’s Important To Disinfect A House After Illness

Today’s post deals with an important subject: cleaning and disinfecting your house after illness, whether someone’s had the flu, a cold, COVID, or another illness. When I’ve been sick for a few days, nothing gives me a boost and helps me feel like things are getting back to normal than a clean house!

But cleaning your house after sickness isn’t just about the mental benefits — there are physical benefits too. During convalescence, or the recovery period after an illness or injury, our bodies are very vulnerable. It takes time for our immune systems to rest and recharge, so it’s important to eliminate germs that could spread the illness or lead to reinfection.

Related: 13 Grimy Things You Need To Wash Your Hands After Touching

Below, you’ll find a list of simple precautionary steps you can take to disinfect your house and eliminate germs that built up around the house while you or a family member has been sick. Learning how to disinfect a house after illness can help the ill recover, the healthy stay that way, and get things back on track.

Read on to learn how to cleanse your house of sickness!

How To Clean Your House After Illness: 9 Simple Tips

Cleaning A House After An Illness - woman using spray and a cloth to clean a shelf

1. Disinfect Surfaces And Items

It’s important to disinfect surfaces or items a sick person has been in contact with, like door knobs, light switches, TV remotes, etc. Most things around the house only need to be washed with soap and water to eliminate germs, but for items you can’t wash with soap and water, a disinfecting spray is the next best thing.

You can make an all-natural cleaning spray with antibacterial properties for this job. Vinegar can kill many harmful pathogens on its own, and the essential oils also pack an antimicrobial punch.

How To Make A Natural Disinfecting Spray


  • 6 Tbsp (3 oz) water
  • 2 Tbsp (1 oz) white vinegar
  • 12 drops Simple Clean Essential Oil Blend


Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well to mix. Spray the surface liberally, then wipe. (Make sure the surface is still moist after you wipe it, like when you use a disinfecting wipe, to ensure that it effectively kill germs.)

Cleaning A House After An Illness - woman putting essential oil in a diffuser

2. Use Your Diffuser

Diffuse essential oils before, during, and after you’re sick. If you’re currently healthy and would like to stay that way, try diffusing Defend blend to fight germs and bacteria. If you’re already sick and experiencing respiratory issues, try diffusing All Clear to help open up your airways. And after you’ve been sick, diffuse Simple Clean to freshen up the air and keep germs at bay.

Read More: The Best Way To Get Rid Of Stale Or Stuffy Air? Clean It!

Cleaning A House After An Illness - removing a pillow cover

3. Double Up

(Technically, this tip is meant to be used during an illness, rather than after, but I’m including it anyway!) When you’re sick, you tend to sweat a lot, and it can seep into your mattress and pillows and lead to staining and odors.

An easy way to prevent this is to double up on fitted sheets and pillowcases when someone is sick. The extra layer will absorb excess sweat and keep it out of your pillows and mattress.

Cleaning A House After An Illness - woman putting bedding in a washing machine

4. Wash Your Bedding

Once you see the light at the end of the tunnel of a cold or flu, it’s time to wash all that bedding. Throw it in your washer using hot water, and leave the bed uncovered for a few hours to dry out any moisture that may be lingering on the surface of your mattress.

(If the mattress smells a bit musty, check out my post about cleaning and freshening your mattress at the link below.)

Read More: How To Clean And Freshen Your Mattress

Cleaning A House After An Illness - an open window allowing fresh air into house

5. Get Some Fresh Air

If it’s not too cold, throw open your windows and let in some fresh air. The fresh air from outside will dilute the stale air inside, reducing the concentration of any airborne pathogens. (Fresh air can also help you feel more alert and energetic, which can help with your mood and energy level.)

Cleaning A House After An Illness - dryer balls in dryer with towels

6. Wash Your Towels

Grab all the towels that have been touched or used during the illness, including bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, etc., and throw them in your washer. Wash them on the hottest water setting, then be sure to wash any bathroom items that have touched your face, like makeup brushes and so on, with soap and water too.

Cleaning A House After An Illness - toothbrush next to bottle of hydrogen peroxide and bottle of Simple Clean essential oil blend

7. Clean Your Toothbrush

It’s important to sanitize your toothbrush after being sick too! Combine 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 12 drops of Simple Clean, then soak your toothbrush for several minutes to kill any lingering bacteria.

Related: This Is One Of The Most Versatile Cleaning Ingredients You Can Buy

Cleaning A House After An Illness - new air filter

8. Replace Your Air Filter

Replacing your furnace’s air filter after you’ve been sick is a simple and inexpensive measure that can help ensure that the air in your home is clean and healthy. Dispose of the old air filter so you can be sure those germs won’t be recirculating in your home.

Cleaning A House After An Illness - hand dropping used sponge in the trash

9. Clean Or Dispose Of Cleaning Tools

When you’re finished with your post-sickness cleaning and disinfecting, remember to clean your cleaning tools or dispose of them. If you use a sponge or paper towels, be sure to throw them out afterward, and wash any cleaning cloths you’ve used in hot water.

Related: 3 Simple Rules That Will Make Your Entire Kitchen Safer

Do you do anything else to clean or disinfect after being sick?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • I’m glad to see the comments from Linda about other oils. We would probably use the simply clean very fast at our place- and besides that I already have most of the oils mentioned. I’m also glad to see that about Vinegar.

  • I agree that cleaning after being sick is such a comforting thing to do. You don’t want to wallow in the muck- time to start fresh!
    But, I do have a question- isn’t it impossible to reinfect yourself once you are over the illness?

  • You always have great ideas! Especially the mattress one. I didn’t think of that one. I would love to print some of you ideas but the “printer friendly” isn’t so friendly. It imports all the photos. I don’t want to waste my ink and don’t need all that paper to file. Could you omit the photos?

  • Thanks everyone for sharing. I recently had pinkeye ( I think) , who knows how I got it . Probably from working with the public. I had to be very careful and use a separate towel for my face which I kept in my room- to keep from infecting other family members. I was a sight .

  • These are all amazing and me at just the right time for me! I had pneumonia for the past 2 weeks. I had already done some of them but the reminders about the rest are very much appreciated! Going to throw away my toothbrush now, lol!

  • This couldn’t have come at a better time…………………Just got over the flu (it was bad) and have already sanitized remotes, light switches, doorknobs, and assorted kitchen, bath handles as well as keyboard, phone and kindle. I’m a little OCD about cleanliness…………….anyway thanks for the info and hope your New Year is a healthy one………..

  • Jillee, thanks for the GREAT tips for cleaning your home after being ill.

    Here are three of my best tips when illness strikes my family:

    1. We use paper products or hand wash dinnerware and silverware with Palmolive AntiBacterial Dish Liquid (not to be confused with antibacterial ‘hand’ soaps sold as dish liquids) this formula actually kills 99.9% bacterial on dishes, and kitchen surfaces.

    2. In addition, to washing bedding and towels I clean the sofa upholstery and scrub down the coffee/snack tables in our family room.

    3. I keep either commercial or DIY antiviral/antibacterial cleaning wipes to clean refrigerator door handles, kitchen cabinet knobs/pulls, and microwave oven controls daily.

  • RN here too, and I so agree with Cathy’s post above! I always double up pillowcases whether sick or not, and always have a mattress protector on the bed. I also prefer to use thinner quilts on the bed rather than comforters as they are easier to wash regularly. I use neat vinegar in a spray bottle to clean just about everything apart from my granite countertops. As an ex microbiologist, RN, AND certified clinical aromatherapist, I can absolutely verify that vinegar will kill germs quicker than anything, including lysol…its safe to use on varnished wood, toilets, handles, glass etc. and leaves a beautiful shine. Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, Thyme and Eucalyptus essential oils used singly or in a blend at the rate of 1 drop per ounce of liquid (i.e counter spray) are the BEST oils for killing germs…I’ve proved that to myself with my own microbiological testing. Id forget about Melaleuca, Lemon, Rosemary though…they are not as effective when used on surfaces, although Melaleuca (Tea Tree) is good with moulds and has good antibacterial effects on wounds, skin etc., the above listed oils are much stronger for use on surfaces and as antibacterial cleaners.

  • Oops, forgot to add…. Vinegar is a great natural disinfectant as noted in the blog, and I am experimenting with essential oils . My daughter gave me a diffuser for Christmas and several oils which she and my grandson use when they are sick. My husband was sick with a upper respiratory illness recently and I set up the diffuser with an essential oil called “on guard” to circulate in the air and I rubbed the bottom of his feet with the oils several times a day and it seemed to help. My husband is a retired neurologist and was skeptical about its actual “medical benefits ” but if nothing else he agreed the foot rubs made him feel better., the oils scent smelled awesome and soothed him and he felt better faster. I think my homemade chicken veggie soup may of helped also Of course I recommend always seeing your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment for illnesses that warrant such attention. ….and I will be using my diffuser and oils regularly:)

  • Great post! As a R.N. I agree that killing germs is a must after an illness. I have a mattress pad over my mattress that can be taken off the bed and washed in warm water after an illness, using detergent and even a touch of Lysol liquid and followed up with an extra rinse cycle. I change my pillowcase daily whether I’m sick of not. You can use a draw sheet or pad on your bed over your fitted sheet ( like we do in the hospitals) that you can take off and rotate washing daily because taking the sheets off the bed daily is much too incomvenient , especially when your sick. Replacing your toothbrush is very important after your well as well as wiping door handles, light fixture switches, remote controls, and any object that may of been contaminated. Change your a/c filter. Germs only last for a limited time on objects but it will not hurt to give everything a quick wipe down with a Lysol wipe. Wash children’s toys , rinsing well , shaking them and draining them so that soapy water doesn’t come out into your child’s mouth later. Don’t forget to wipe toilet handles and clean toilets thoroughly. Thanks for the great post! Wish everyone good health for the new year. :)

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