My son started feeling sick today. Whether it’s the Swine Flu, the Stomach Flu, or just a regular cold from a virus, I don’t want to get sick, and the rest of my family doesn’t want to either. The problem is how do you care for a child or family member and keep from getting sick yourself? The answer: disinfect the house!

According to the Federal Center for Disease Control, viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces, so a thorough cleaning of sinks, toilets, doorknobs, and other hard surfaces that people frequently touch is the first and most important step in preventing the spread of disease. Incubation of the flu is generally 1-3 days but can last as long as 7 days. Persons with swine influenza A (H1N1) should be considered potentially contagious for up to 7 days after the onset of symptoms. So it’s important to clean if you think you’ve been exposed and continue the cleaning for a week after onset even if symptoms lessen.

Let’s start with the basics-the difference between clean and disinfected. You may have a very clean home, but it may not be disinfected. To clean means to remove dirt and food from surfaces such as countertops and floors. To disinfect means to remove microorganisms (germs), in other words, viruses, and bacteria to a safe level. To properly disinfect, you must first clean.

Disinfecting, also called sanitizing, can help prevent disease transmission. However, a sanitized surface is not sterile or completely free of bacteria but it will greatly help the spread of illness. One official and legal definition state that…

a sanitizer must be capable of killing 99.999% of a specific bacterial test population, and to do so within 30 seconds.


Let’s discuss the best methods to disinfect your home:

  1. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite): This is the most effective, and cheap way to sanitize. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the use of bleach for controlling the spread of pathogens that can cause infections and other health threats. Use a 5% solution by mixing the amounts below with fresh tap water. The diluted bleach loses strength within a day, so make it fresh when you need it.

NEVER mix ammonia with sodium hypochlorite (bleach or bleach-containing products). This common household error produces a toxic gas that can cause choking and serious breathing problems. Use in a well-ventilated area. Always label the container that you use to prevent accidental poisoning.

Recipe for Bleach Disinfecting Solution
(For use in bathrooms, kitchens, floors, etc.)

1/4 cup bleach
1 gallon of cool water


1 tablespoon bleach
1 quart cool water

Add the household bleach (5.25%
sodium hypochlorite) to the water.

Recipe for Weaker
Bleach Disinfecting Solution
(For use on toys, eating utensils, etc.)

1 tablespoon bleach
1 gallon cool water

  1. Phenols such as Lysol: Laboratory tests have shown that many LYSOL® products, when used according to label instructions, are effective against similar strains of Influenza virus H1N1. These LYSOL® products include: LYSOL® Disinfectant Spray, LYSOL® Disinfecting Wipes, and LYSOL® All-Purpose Cleaners, both pourable and trigger products. With the spray, you can cover mattresses and other hard to clean areas.

Make Your Own Disinfecting Wipes:

  1. Cut a roll of Bounty paper towels in half, and remove cardboard tube.
  2. Find an old 5-quart ice cream bucket, storage container or an empty large canister of commercial wipes to store your wipes. Just make sure it’s airtight.
  3. Cut an “X” in the top. This is optional since you can just open the container and pull one out.
  4. In your airtight container, mix 1-1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup of cleaner such as Lysol or Mr. Clean Anti-Bacterial.
  5. Place 1 half-roll of paper towels inside and seal with lid.
  6. Turn upside down until all the liquid is absorbed in paper towels.
  7. To use, pull each piece of paper towel out of the center.
  8. If they become dried out, add more of your diluted cleaning solution.

For a recipe to make your own baby wipes, visit Homemade Disinfecting or Baby Wipes.