How to Clean Up After Being Sick: Post Cold & Flu Cleaning Routine

How appropriate a blog topic. Let me break down what this past week has been like for us here at Clean My Space headquarters…

On Monday morning, Chad woke up with a bad cold and because Chad is a giant baby, he proceeded to spend the next 2 days in bed and wallow in his sickness. What’s worse, halfway through Chad’s sickness I got sick with the same thing and ended up bedridden for a whole day myself! And, while it was a great opportunity to spend quality time with my darling husband, being sick sucks, and I’m happy to announce that we’re both back to 100%  health.

However, there is indeed now a layer of nasty sickness residue all over my home, so today, because many of you have asked—but more so, because my house really needs it right now—I’m going to talk about my post cold and flu cleaning routine!

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1. Bedding


When you are sick, you tend to sweat a lot while sleeping. So, if you can, try to place an extra sheet under your fitted sheet to absorb extra sweat from the sick person, it’s just a kind thing to do for your mattress. You can also consider placing a pillow protector on your pillow when sick too—same idea.

When the sickness is gone, strip the bed, wash the bedding and replace. If you can, leave the mattress stripped for a while to air out. If there’s any blood, vomit or other undesirable stuff on the linens, pre-soak in oxygen bleach powder or a trusted stain remover before washing. If possible, wash everything with hot water to kill bacteria (if the sheets allow it).

2. Points of contact


Check out our in-depth video and post on cleaning points of contact.

I was using my laptop, TV remote, door knobs and light switch plates. So, cleaning those points of contact once the cold has passed is a great thing to do. This also includes any phones that were used. This is so utterly crucial!

3. Air out the house


Now, seeing that it is the middle of a frigid Canadian winter here, opening the windows to let a cross breeze through is not an overly appealing idea but it still does work wonders to move some fresh air through your home for a bit. It replaces that old stale air and for whatever reason fresh air makes me feel more energized which is an added bonus.

4. Bathrooms


This is where it all comes out—and that’s a good thing—but, this sacred space does need a sanitizing treatment after you have been sick, in it. There are several places that need to be tended to in the bathroom. If you use hand towels, they need to be washed, stat. Also, throw any housecoats or bath towels in the wash while you’re at it. Remember to wash on the hottest cycle possible! Next, give all surfaces a nice disinfecting wipe down, focussing on toilets and countertops. Soak your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes to kill any bacteria lurking there, and finally, wipe down those garbage cans. You can clean and disinfect using a mixture of 1 part water to 1 part rubbing alcohol, or water and 10 drops of tea tree oil, and even 1 part water to 1 part full-strength vinegar.

5. Kitchen


Even though the kitchen may not be a popular place when you’re sick, it still gets used. So, take a moment to give a good disinfecting wipe down of the counters and key points of contact like the fridge handle, the faucet, and cupboard and drawer handles! Clean any dishware used by the sick person(s) in the dishwasher, and also give the garbage cans a good wipe down and replace the garbage bag, as needed.

6. Sick clothing


When I’m sick I break out the oldest pajamas I can find. I don’t know why I just do—please don’t judge! Regardless, these items have an important place in my wardrobe and have lasted me years and have come in really handy while being sick. So, when I’m done being sick I wash everything I wore in really hot water (assuming the garment allows that). If they have to be washed in cold water, consider adding 10 drops of a disinfecting essential oil to your wash (lavender, tea tree oil, etc.).

Here’s another handy tip for you which you can use while you’re dealing with your sickness; keep used tissues in one place by putting an empty tissue box beside the one that you’re using and keep it there with a couple of rubber bands. This keeps the tissue dispenser in close proximity to the tissue disposal!

Here’s to a speedy recovery!

For more cleaning tricks check out our E-Book Bundle! It gives you three fantastic e-books full of cleaning secrets that I have learned throughout my 20 years in the cleaning business.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


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  2. Although I like your efforts very much and do thank you, I wish you would not use the word “ghetto” to describe your old pajamas and with the word “shameful” in reference to them. It can continue a stereotype that people who live in an inner-city poverty area (often termed “ghetto”) are somehow shameful. I know you don’t mean that but just think about how this sounds: “When I’m sick I break out the most ghetto pyjamas I can find, I don’t know why I just do – please don’t judge.. Regardless, these shameful items ….”

    • It’s not meant in an offensive way and so sorry if you took it that way. Everything can be taken in an offensive way to someone. Stop with your P.C. and just read the article.

      • Fred, thank you for voicing this. I agree that the *intent* is far more important than the words themselves.
        Plus, in text, we lose a lot of social cues that would give context. It is always illuminating to see the inner workings of a person, as they decide what context would be “normal”.

  3. I have a fabric matress protector and a like-wierd-plasitcy-fabric one so after im sick I wash the fabric one and give the other one (it zippers all the way aroud my matterss) a quick wipe down and air out. I love this post.

  4. Thanks for posting, in the midst of a bronchitis bout, with 2 little ones I’m already thinking when I get energy… I need to sanitize!

  5. Hi Melissa,
    Thanks so much for this. I was diagnosed with the flu today and just saw this in my Pinterest feed. I’m trying to be proactive about disinfecting so my hubby doesn’t get sick. He doesn’t have the luxury of sick days off from work that I do!

  6. Instead of waiting until after your cold is over, what can be done when you are up to doing things during your cold? Have a boyfriend that is sick right now. He also has allergies & asthma.

    • I have 3 kids sicks. 1 sick husband and myself. This all started Saturday(for hubby) Sunday morning for kids (mine has been a lingering sinus cold for days now) anyways, since Sunday morning when my kids woke up throwing up. I have literally continued to wash everything they touch and sleep in that day and using homemade natural disinfectant cleaners to clean and castile soap with lavender and frankincense to wash our hands with like 100x a day. Today is day 3 of sickness for kids. And I still have my diffuser running but with oregano, lemon, lemongrass, bergamot and citronella, I mix it up with these but always have the oregano with the others I choose at that moment. Oregano is 49x more potent as an anti bacterial and antiviral than commercial cleaners such as lysol. And the spray I made consists of vinegar, water, fighting five, lemon, lemongrass, frankincense and tea tree. I literally spray it on everything and let it sit everytime I walk in the room. Since they are still sick, I feel awful but I’m doing what I can while we’re all sick and hopefully be done with this today or tomorrow. For my youngsters, they have ran fevers but my littlest one, I did 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1 drop of bergamot and that has helped her fever go down dramatically. Along with popsicles. Propel water with electrolytes and staying away from heavy foods. Mostly liquids. As far as fresh air. I have my a/c on because it’s hot but when. The a/c isn’t running I leave all the windows open because I can’t stand enclosed areas anyways, and that alone as helped a great bit!! 🙂 wish there was more I could do. But we are a green family and first time being sick since we’ve traded in commercial cleaners and lysol for natural cleaners and disinfectants, so it’s a working progress. But I can tell they are getting better. 😀

      • I just got this post on Pinterest. Though I just cleaned everything with soap and water then disinfected with bleach. Ugh! I wasn’t sure if the oregano oil would do the trick. What’s the ratio you use? Thanks. I’m trying to go all natural but got nervous when my husband was exposed to the flu yesterday. Thanks.

  7. great idea this post specially in winter…
    we re 5 in the family …3 children included and billions of virus also …one 1 is finished with a cold or something else more (uhhhhhhh i cant breath) that s the middle one that gets it aand so on ..until my husband get it and then it s worse…..(almost dying) lol

  8. I have asked several times to have this type of written message sent to my e-mail, so that I can save it in a folder for reference when I need it. but, so far it hasn’t happened, Do I have to request the ones I want each time or what? Love your written ones, the video not so much as being older, I need to reread things several times to remember.

  9. This all great advice, but you get exposed to it somewhere! And to go somewhere you have to get in the CAR! Disinfect the car too! =) We’re dealing with our 3rd major illness in 4 weeks. I’m about ready to burn our house down and maybe the car too. LOL

  10. Just found you….getting over the flu. Thanks so much for the great info. You are quite young to be so cleaning savvy. Even us experienced (read over 60 yrs) need a refresher on the best course of cleaning action after being sick. When sick I sleep a lot, watch Netflix (sound familiar?) and play games and puzzles on the computer.

  11. What are your thoughts about using a bleach disinfectant solution? It is recommended/required as a disinfectant for day cares and other commercial settings. (See here: However, I am not so sure I like the idea of using bleach to clean my home – particularly on my child’s non-fabric, non-porous toys. I am concerned mostly with color fast issues and the general safety of using bleach. Your thoughts? Thank you!

    • Alternative bleach cleaner. Hydrogen peroxide with lemon essential oil and fighting five or tea tree. Any essential oil will work that has anti bacterial. Antiviral and antiseptic properties! 🙂 just make sure you do your research and follow the dilution guide! 🙂 vinegar has also been proven to show disinfectant properties and if you let a lemon sit in it for a couple weeks, it helps alot!and withe the smell! I love hydrogen peroxide. Also alcohol , vodka 100 proof or 180 proof everclear is great disinfectant by itself but you can always add essential oils to it for the smell and their properties to give a boost! 😀 I buy my essential oils from

    • In 8 oz of water use 3-5 drops of tea tree oil

      Less is more when it comes to essential oils and make sure to shake often if using just water. If you want to add an emulsifier to shake less often then witch hazel would work and I’d do about a half ounce of witch hazel in 8 oz bottle

  12. Hi Melissa,
    Glad to hear you and your hubby are on the mend. Great idea to write about post cold/flu clean up. Funny enough I found out about you while on a cleaning rampage after my boyfriend and I got through the worst of our butt-kick’n flu. I wanted to learn more about how to clean smarter, plus more thoroughly now that I had sick germs to annihilate. I didn’t have the energy, but instinctively felt I had to clean. So although I couldn’t work at it for very long before needing a break, it just felt better knowing I was at least chipping away at getting those germs out of my space. I’m on a roll now. I think it kicked in a winter clean up instead of a spring clean up because I took 5 boxes of clothes and kitchenware to donate to a women’s shelter and am even organizing my file cabinet. Part of it might be that I’m just happy to be able to finally do stuff now that I’m not stuck in bed!! But I also feel inspired by all your cleaning advice and it’s branching out to other avenues like getting more organized.
    So rest up, and thanks for the great tips! I have to go soak our toothbrushes now. LOL ;P


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