How to clean your house when you suspect someone is ill – stop germs in their tracks

Learn how to disinfect and clean your home to stop illnesses from spreading

Modern and luxury counter, cabinet and shelf with white granite top and black washing machine sunlight from window on cement tile wall laundry room for washing and cleaning product display
(Image credit: Suchada Tansirimas / Getty Images)

If you suspect someone you live with is unwell, maintaining a clean and hygienic house is important for not only their recovery but the health of everyone else.

When cleaning your house when someone is ill, it's important to start with the basics. This means decluttering and removing any unnecessary items from surfaces and floors. Although decluttering and cleaning all communal rooms may seem like an endless task, germs and bacteria in high-traffic areas can easily thrive and spread throughout your home.

Clearing away clutter first is not only a great cleaning tip but also reduces dust and germs that can accumulate in these areas.

How to clean your house when you suspect someone is ill

If you suspect someone is ill, here are 6 tips you can try to clean your house, as recommended by our experts.

1. Clean high-touch surfaces and areas

light and bright entryway with a pale blue front door and bench seat

(Image credit: BHDM Design / Photography Reid Rolls)

To stop germs before they can spread, it's a good idea to focus on high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, countertops, and bathroom fixtures. Use a CDC-approved disinfectant, such as CloroxPro™ Clorox Total 360® Disinfectant Cleaner from Amazon, to effectively kill germs and viruses lingering on these surfaces. Pay special attention to areas frequently accessed by the suspected ill person.

In addition to commonly touched surfaces, it's important to pay extra attention to high-touch areas like remote controls, phones, and keyboards. These items are often overlooked but can harbor a significant amount of germs. Natural disinfectant wipes from Amazon will help to clean these items thoroughly.

2. Ventilate

According to cleaning specialist Shayne Jeramos, in order to help remove germs and bacteria from your house, you should look to increase the ventilation wherever possible. Many viral and bacterial pathogens can linger in the air. 

Increase ventilation in your home by opening windows and running fans during cleaning sessions. Make sure windows are open to let air flow, and healthy air can help disperse the viruses and bacteria. Fresh air circulation helps disperse airborne contaminants and prevents them from settling on surfaces.

Shayne Jeramos
Shayne Jeramos

Shayne Jeramos has been a cleaning specialist at Bright Cleaners for over 2 years and has extensive experience with residential and cleaning services.

3. Wear appropriate cleaning equipment

Wear gloves and a mask while cleaning, especially if you're in close contact with areas potentially contaminated by illness-causing pathogens. Disposable cleaning gloves can prevent direct contact with harmful germs. 

Ensure that you dispose of the gloves after each cleaning session to avoid cross-contamination, and wash your hands immediately after removing the gloves.

4. Wash bedding and towels frequently

A ruggable rug in a bedroom

(Image credit: Ruggable)

When someone is ill in the household, it's essential to wash bedding and towels frequently. This includes sheets, pillowcases, and towels used for bathing and handwashing. 

‘If you are washing linens and clothes for a sick person, be sure to turn the washer to its hottest setting possible to kill the pathogens and use laundry detergent to effectively remove any germs and bacteria,' says Angela Rubin, owner of Hellamaid.

If you have to handle the dirty laundry, remember to wear gloves when doing so and avoid shaking it because the virus can get dispersed in the air. Another tip is to consider using a laundry sanitizer additive – such as this OxiClean Laundry & Home Sanitizer from Walmart – for an extra layer of protection.

Angela Rubin
Angela Rubin

Hellamaid is an award-winning cleaning company in Canada that's been featured on multiple global media brands.

5. Use a steam cleaner

Steam cleaners, such as the BISSELL SteamShot Deluxe Hard Surface Steam Cleaner from Amazon, are excellent tools for deep cleaning and sanitizing various surfaces around the house. They use high temperatures to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens effectively. When adding one to your regular cleaning kit, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper use.


How do you disinfect air in your house?

If you are looking to disinfect the air in your home there are a few simple things you can do that will improve indoor air quality fast. Start by removing dust by regularly vacuuming and dusting your home, paying special attention to hard-to-reach areas where dust and grime can accumulate. Invest in a dehumidifier and/or an air purifier to maintain optimum humidity levels and filter impurities from the air you breathe. Finally, be sure to regularly change your appliance filters, as their efficiency will diminish if clogged up.

When cleaning your house when someone is ill, it's important to prioritize your own personal hygiene. This includes washing your hands frequently, especially after coming into contact with the sick person or their belongings. 

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.