How to Clean a Bathroom During Flu Season
Cold and flu season is here, and it’s a challenging one already. Viruses, bacteria and just plain old germs are everywhere, ready to assail our immune systems. While most public environments are beyond our control, we have quite a few measures we can take in our own homes to stop the spread of pathogens, and the bathroom is at the forefront of the battle. Knowing how to clean a bathroom equates to keeping you and your family healthy.
1. Recognize just how rich your bathroom’s environment is for pathogen transmission.
Make a mental list of all of the hard surfaces you touch when you use a washroom—door handles, light and fan switches, cabinetry knobs and pulls, faucet handles on the sink, controls on the bathtub or shower, hampers, trash cans, and the toilet lever, as well as the seat and lid. Our feet and hands make contact with the shower, and our entire body has contact with the bathtub. Then, there’s the counter space and floor.
Next, add all of the soft surfaces—hand towels and bath towels, tissues and toilet paper, bathroom rugs and shower curtains. There are also soaps, cosmetics and other personal care items like toothbrushes or blow dryers, for example, that we keep in the bathroom too.
Each surface that you or someone else touches becomes a germ reservoir—a point for the indirect transmission of germs to the next person who touches it.
2. Sanitize surfaces and items that are commonly touched.
Germs can live on dry surfaces for hours, days and even weeks. In fact, viruses typically remain active on hard surfaces like stainless steel or hard plastics longer than they do on soft, porous surfaces like fabrics. Each time someone uses the bathroom and touches the surfaces, they may introduce new germs or take with them germs that were already there.
Sanitizing hard surfaces frequently helps to control the environment, eliminating germs before they have the chance to spread. It can be as simple as running over switches and handles with a sanitizing wipe or two and encouraging bathroom users to wipe down the counter when they’re done washing up.
3. Consider touch-free technology for the bathroom.
Sensor technology and smart apps offer amazing opportunities to eliminate the need to touch switches, handles and other controls at all. Light switches can be voice-activated. The wave or tap of a hand can turn a faucet on and off or activate a soap dispenser. You can pour the perfect bath or start a relaxing steam bath with the tap of an app. Toilet lids can open automatically, and toilets can be self-cleaning and allow completely personalized—and touchless—operation. You can even find touchless trash cans.
Related: Shop Touch-free Bathroom Appliances
4. When replacing bathroom features, take advantage of antimicrobial materials and germ-resistant finishes.
Products are available that incorporate antimicrobial materials and finishes like Microban to prevent mold, mildew and bacteria on handles and switches, for example. However, many manufacturers are also choosing nonporous materials or engineering composites for larger items that are not only durable and beautiful but also easy to clean and resistant to germs and stains. From sinks and countertops to bathtubs and shower surrounds, bathroom features that are easy to keep clean and sanitary are an industry focus.
Related: Shop Antimicrobial Bathroom Sinks
5. Disinfect and squeegee showers after each use.
Even when we’re well, standing in a shower and letting it stream the day’s worries away is a stress-relieving ritual. When we’re sick, the shower becomes a refuge of warm water and steam that will hopefully relieve aches and pains and help us breathe better. What that means for the next person who uses the shower, however, is that the shower should be cleaned. Keeping a shower spray and squeegee handy is a big step toward making sanitizing the shower easy. Just a few quick swipes can send germs and excess moisture down the drain.
If you’re using a shower curtain and liner, that can be another place that harbors germs simply because the curtains can be a pain to take down, clean and put back up. Glass shower doors can be easy to sanitize right in place.
6. Opt for single-use towels & washcloths.
You have some choices here, but the idea is to stop the transfer of germs to others—and maybe even prevent you from reinfecting yourself. Moist towels can not only harbor viruses but also serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, odors and mold. Hand towels and bath towels should be washed after each use. If you don’t have sufficient hand towels to do that, you may want to switch to paper towels or keep a box of wet wipes readily accessible—especially if you’re having guests over.
7. Get organized.
Most of us keep a lot of personal care and beauty items in our bathrooms. We need them, but if they’re taking up space on counters, in the shower or around the bathtub, they can interfere with our ability to clean. They actually become yet another thing that we need to handle and move around while someone is sick. Meanwhile, they collect dirt and moisture.
There are many effective ways to keep your bathroom organized. If you’re dealing with limited space, consider using acrylic bins to store small items that would otherwise be loose in your cabinets. Dividers are a great way to bring some organization to unruly drawers. If you have multiple people living in the house, consider creating travel caddies for each resident that can be easily stored in a cabinet or on a shelf when not in use.
8. Pay attention to flooring.
Keeping up with the laundry and the trash seems simple, but it really is important. If you empty receptacles frequently, you won’t have the problems of overflow or having to handle dirty items more than once. After all, handling corrupted items is a viable method of transmitting germs. Having adequate receptacles also helps to mitigate clutter so that cleaning surfaces and bath areas remains a quick and easy task.
9. Use ventilation and air purifiers.
Many viruses and germs are transmitted through the air when we sneeze, cough or breathe. Simply running a bathroom fan to keep air moving and remove steam and humidity can help to keep the bathroom environment drier and make it more difficult for germs to hang in the air. Adding a small air purifier is also an option. They run periodically for just a few minutes at a time and remove impurities that are present in the air. While air filtration removes particles from the air, purifiers also sanitize the air.
What they treat and how they do it depends on the actual purifier. Some models use ultraviolet light, for example, or charcoal, in addition to a series of paper filters.
10. Don’t forget the floors.
Many viruses and germs are transmitted through the air when we sneeze, cough or breathe. Simply running a bathroom fan to keep air moving and remove steam and humidity can help to keep the bathroom environment drier and make it more difficult for germs to hang in the air. Adding a small air purifier is also an option. They run periodically for just a few minutes at a time and remove impurities that are present in the air. While air filtration removes particles from the air, purifiers also sanitize the air. What they treat and how they do it depends on the actual purifier. Some models use ultraviolet light, for example, or charcoal, in addition to a series of paper filters.
In today’s world, knowing how to clean your bathroom and other communal spaces in your home remains vital year-round and will only increase in importance during cold and flu season. The trick is to make it easy by doing simple things like taking advantage of modern technology when updating or replacing bathroom fixtures, investing in low-maintenance materials and designs, and developing clean habits.
If you’d like more information on ways to make your home healthier and more efficient, Coburn’s is the perfect resource. Explore our website, or stop by your nearest Coburn’s Kitchen & Bath Showroom. We have conveniences, appliances and everything else you need to make your bathroom and every other room in your home beautiful, comfortable and healthful for every season of the year.