I lay on the side of the bed, my large pregnant belly hanging over the edge, as I faced the wall. Although I was sleeping, it was a light sleep. Even though my eyes were resting, my ears were listening for any peep of noise.
Seconds later, I sat up with a jolt seeing my son standing at the edge of my room. “I’m sick,” he mumbled. “I just threw up.” I hopped off my bed as fast as any 9 month pregnant woman can as I grabbed my gloves and wipes.
This sickness had taken down it’s fifth victim of the last week. What if I get sick? I pushed the thoughts away not wanting to think about dehydration or not being able to hold food down. I was in survival mode, cleaning mode. I needed to make my nest clean for this next little birdie.
How is this happening? I thought. I was doing so well. My diligence to clean should not be overlooked here. I wasn’t just nesting – I was nesting in a viral-war-zone.
I’ve written before on stocking up for Winter “sick season” but I wanted to come back here and share what I learned about our little journey with Norovirus (aka stomach flu).
I hope and pray that this year isn’t as bad for that nasty little virus. I was 36 weeks pregnant last February when it first struck our home. I quickly went into obsessive-compulsive overdrive.
It started when someone (apparently having just gotten over the dreadful yucky disease) contaminated the food they were serving at a catered event. About 60 of our friends came down with it and within days my 7 year old daughter had caught it, too.
At first, we thought it was some sort of food poisoning but quickly realized it wasn’t when others in our home came down with it who hadn’t attended the first event. After hours of vomiting and diarrhea, our daughter was sick in bed and resting. Hoping to contain it, I brought some books and fluids to her in her room – I was trying desperately to keep the other children from becoming exposed.
About two days later my youngest daughter had it. I did my best to clean up after her and keep her away from her brothers. I started realizing that this wasn’t food poisoning and it must be a stomach flu virus. I started searching and the department of health and the CDC both confirmed how to clean to destroy this virus.
The more I read, the more I realized I was cleaning all wrong. I was using Lysol or Clorox wipes which don’t contain bleach.
I was washing dirty clothes in the washer machine with ordinary detergent. I had been washing dishes in the dishwasher along with everyone else’s dishes. I suddenly saw that cleaning up the stomach flu germs wouldn’t be easy. This is a hardy virus. Water doesn’t kill it. Household cleaners (other than bleach) don’t kill it. It would resist all my efforts.
In my attempt to clean, I was, in fact, contaminating our entire household. A few days later my youngest son complained of a belly ache at dinner time. Suddenly, the sickness hit him and I gave a speech to our oldest two sons at bedtime. I told them if they felt sick to run to the bathroom, without delay. I instructed them to wake us if they felt ill. As I was cleaning up after my youngest, my husband began to feel ill. It was moving as swiftly as the flu had through our family, a few years before. Sure enough, in the middle of the night, my 10 year old was sick as well. We had 5 of us severely sick all within days of each other. I write all this to say that if the nasty Noro bug or stomach flu hits your family don’t make the same mistake I did.
10 Things You Need to Know about Cleaning up the Stomach Flu
1. Chlorine Bleach
Bleach is the only thing that should be used and the product that cleans it effectively.
It is best to use chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite-NaOCl) as the main disinfecting agent (other types of disinfectants are not effective at killing the virus). Use a new, unopened bottle of chlorine bleach and prepare the cleaning solution as indicated below under “Concentrations,” using fresh bleach each day.source
I used Clorox Cleanup with bleach for sinks, toilet seats, and showers/tubs.
2. Check your dish detergent
Most dish detergent don’t detergents bleach. Most are enzyme based – which does not kill norovirus. I did find one at Target which does. Please use caution: many cleaners you CANNOT mix with bleach! Please be careful and always read the labels!
3. Sanitize Your Dishwasher
I used heated dry in the dish cycle. If you have a sanitary cycle – use that, too.
4. Steam clean the carpet (and hardwood floors)
Steam-clean the carpet to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes or 212 degrees Fahrenheit for one minute to completely inactivate the virus. source
5. Check your cleaners – Make sure they ALL have bleach
I learned that Clorox Wipes don’t contain bleach. Read Labels. You are only pushing around the Norovirus germs, otherwise.
6. Sanitizing Your Toilets is a must for cleaning up the stomach flu
Where are most (not all) of the virus particles found? Where people are throwing up. You need to use a bleach based cleaner in your toilet, too. I used Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner which includes bleach on the label for the inside of the toilets.
7. When in Doubt – Skip the Cleaners and Use Bleach
I used diluted bleach to clean household surfaces like stair rails and flat surfaces/light switches.
8. Let the bleach solution sit for a while.
For the best results, let the bleach water or cleaner sit on the surface for about 10 minutes before wiping it clean with paper towels or other disposable products.source
9. Don’t drag germs down the hall
I put any contaminated sheets/towels/clothes in a trash bag and walked it to the laundry room (don’t contaminate hallway/rooms)
10. Kill germs in the washer
I washed any contaminated sheets and clothes separately from non-contaminated with bleach on hot (preferably sanitize cycle if available)
Use gloves to handle soiled sheets, towels and clothes, and keep them separate from other laundry if possible.source
I really hope your family doesn’t get struck with the stomach flu – Norovirus…but if they do – please be prepared!!! What are your tips for cleaning up the stomach flu?
Don’t forget you can download our printable winter planner that has tons of guides and trackers for medicine and symptoms!