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Here’s Where to Clean After Someone in Your Home Has Been Sick

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Homecare expert Melissa Maker shares her tips.

At last, your cold is gone. You’re not coughing. You can breathe through your nose. It’s a wonderful feeling, sure. But before you return to your healthy life, it’s important you disinfect any objects and surfaces in your home that might be germy; after all, you don’t want your little ones to catch what you may have had. And a lot of those spots aren’t so obvious.

Melissa Maker, homecare expert, YouTube star, mom, and founder of Clean My Space knows all about this. Her first step? Retracing her steps through the house when she was sick (in other words, the kitchen probably needs disinfecting, but your yoga mat probably doesn’t). Here, the cleaning pro shares the places she knows germs are lingering around the house. Grab disinfectant and a rag and learn them all in the video above, then read on for more details.

Doorknobs, railings, light switches, and faucet handles

“A great thing to start with is what I call ‘points of contact,’” Maker says. In other words, all those little spots a lot of people in your home touch, like the front door, staircase railing, kitchen light switch, and bathroom faucet. When disinfecting, Maker recommends that you spray surfaces directly—unless they are attached to an electrical source—and allow the cleaning product to sit for a period of five to ten minutes. “This is called ‘dwell time,’” Maker says. “Unlike TV commercials that show you spraying on and wiping off, a product doesn’t typically kill bacteria on contact.” (Check the labels on your products and they’ll likely agree.)

Robitussin in cabinet

Survey the house for sick supplies

“Do a general sweep of your home,” Maker suggests. “Collect any rogue tissues, food containers, or any empty bottles.” If you’ve had a thermometer or cough medicine out, put them safely away in your medicine cabinet. No longer need a tissue box in every room? Move the extras to a linen closet or basement.

Teakettle, toaster, and other kitchen appliances

“You’re probably not using a blender while you’re sick, so don’t worry about that,” Maker says. But think about what you prepared when you were sick: Did you heat soup in the microwave? Then be sure to clean the microwave buttons. Did you use bag clips? Then don’t forget to give them a wipe down.

Cell phone, laptop, remote control, and other electronics

You probably passed your time in bed scrolling through social media, reading on your e-reader, or channel surfing on your TV, which means those devices are now a hotspot for germs. Maker likes to clean them with microfiber cloth and equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. (While you normally want to spray disinfectant directly onto a target surface, in the case of your electronics, you should spray the cloth instead.)

woman talking about what to wash

Bedding, towels, and other linens

You’ve spent the past few days sweating, sneezing, and coughing into your sheets, pillowcases, pajamas, and robe. Those items need to get cleaned along with any hand towels and tea towels you might have used while you were under the weather. When laundering, Maker recommends using the hottest setting possible that’s safe for your linens and garments. Cotton can withstand very hot temperatures, Maker says, so if your machine has a “sanitize” cycle, use it.

Bedside table

After a cold, your bedside table and the floor space surrounding it can look like a graveyard for tissues. “When we’re sick, we’re just in survival mode,” Maker says. “My night side table becomes my makeshift garbage receptacle.” You want to give the table’s surface a good cleaning, ideally with a disinfectant; if the material doesn’t allow for that, go with soap and water or an all-purpose cleaner.