House cleaning when someone at home is sick

Caring for an ill person at home calls for a thorough house cleaning. Washing your hands is the most effective way of preventing infection and illness from spreading.

Thorough cleaning can help to prevent illness from spreading from person to person. Washing your hands regularly is the most important method of preventing the spread of germs.

When everyone at home is well, a normal maintenance cleaning routine is enough. Vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, washing the toilet, and then washing the cleaning cloths in 60 degrees will suffice.

If someone at home becomes ill, though, it pays to be more thorough. Wear cleaning gloves or disposable latex gloves to protect your hands. Wipe down all door and cupboard handles, tabletops, arm rests, light switches, taps, as well as toilet handles and buttons using a mildly alkaline (pH8.1-10) general purpose cleaning product. It is a good idea to also wipe down mobile phones, keyboards, and remote controls.

As you clean, always move from cleaner areas towards dirtier ones.

It is good practice to regularly wash and clean the toilet. Depending on the type of illness, it may be necessary to use disinfecting cleaning products (e.g. chlorine-based products) in the toilet and the bathroom.

In the toilet, using a damp cleaning cloth and disinfecting general purpose cleaning product, wipe down door handles, the tap (faucet), bidet, all flat surfaces, the sink, the mirror, the tiling or the wall behind the sink, as well as paper and soap dispensers. Pay special attention to all surfaces that may have been touched.

  • Spray cleaning product on the toilet tank, on both sides of the lid, and on the toilet seat. Close the lid and flush the toilet.
  • Pour toilet bowl cleaning product inside the bowl, taking care to cover all sides and any stains. Wash the toilet bowl with a toilet brush. Flush the toilet, rinsing the brush in the water, and then close the lid and leave it shut.
  • Using a toilet cleaning cloth (i.e. a cloth not used anywhere else in your home), wipe down the toilet bowl and the wall next to it as aerosols (known as ‘toilet plume’) may have spread upon flushing.
  • Then, wipe down the toilet tank and the flush handle. Turn the cleaning cloth over.
  • Now, wipe down the top of the shut toilet seat lid and, again, turn over the cleaning cloth.
  • Lift the toilet seat and wipe down the underside.
  • Finally, wash the floor using a general use cleaning product and floor cleaning equipment.

Wash the cleaning gloves you wore and dry them. If you used disposable gloves recycle them according to manufacturer’s instructions. For visual guidance on doffing (removing) your gloves hygienically, watch a videoguide at YouTube.

Once you have doffed your gloves, wash your hands, up to elbows, with soap.

Unless you used disposable cleaning cloths, wash all the cloths you used in minimum of 60 degrees. Use a clean cloth and general use cleaning product to wipe down the vacuum cleaner and all other cleaning equipment you may have used.

Each member of your household should have, and only use, their own hand towel. While you care for an ill person at home, these towels are best changed and washed every day. Change sheets and pillowcases at least once a week. Always wash towels, bed linen, and cleaning cloths in a minimum of 60 degrees.

It is not necessary to wash utensils, dishes, and textiles used by infected persons separately. Do take care to wash your hands with soap, for at least 20 seconds, after handling them, though.

As per guidelines issued by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, home recycling is not impacted by the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Paper tissues and napkins used by an infected person can be recycled as biowaste if that is the existing guidance in your area. Do check for any locally issued instructions. An infected person need not use a separate bin, but emptying the bins daily is recommended. Remember to wash your hands if you handle used tissues.

Do not dispose of tissues, baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, or kitchen roll in the toilet as they may block the drain.