Dragging myself out of the sickroom at last, I was confronted with the dreadful knowledge my home now needed to be purified after my long bout with the death flu. While fire and napalm were my first choices “For those days you wanna make sure its REALLY clean”, the Prime Geek had a slight issue with us firebombing the nest. Something about insurance not covering high explosives, I believe. Luckily, I had kept to two rooms – bedroom and bathroom – so the actual mucking out would be less then I had originally feared.
Whenever I face a large cleaning task I call my mom. She has been running a home cleaning service for well over 15 years (as well as indulging in a bit of personal OCD in our home for far longer), so she is the obvious choice to consult when there is a Herculean task to perform... and you're short of a river to divert. After the usual warnings of not overexerting myself, admonitions over getting ill in the first place and a few offers of soup delivery, we got down to brass tacks and figured out how to return my nest to it old safe self. (IE, slightly messy – but not infectious.)
1- Contain. Anything and everything I touched got tossed into two piles. The first we'll call “Stuff to Chuck.” Kleenex, cans, Popsicle sticks, death bed confessions, etc. All this was shoved into grocery bags, tied up, and tossed into the garbage. Sorry, not even gonna TRY to recycle any of this stuff. The folks who sort through it at the center have enough to deal with WITHOUT my germs swarming them. The rest was laundry bound.
2- Just this once, I've relaxed my hot water ban in the laundry room. Anything on the bed (most importantly my pillow) or worn directly on my person got dumped in the hottest water our old heater can manage, along with half a bottle of peroxide, some laundry soap, and a cup of vinegar. What... you thought I'd crack and use bleach? Sorry, I have cats that are already “special”. The thought of them after a nice bleach tea makes me shudder. Towels and anything that had been laying around in the sickroom got cold water as usual, but I went ahead and used the vinegar and peroxide treatment on these items as well.
3- Spray and Sanitize. Okay, okay. The first few days had the Prime Geek spraying anything I might have touched with Lysol -toilet seats, door knobs, the works. But sanity has returned to us both and the cleanup is running along fine with the far more friendly disinfectant recipe my mother gave me.* At first, it was just all the hard surfaces... but as paranoia began to set it, the soft surfaces got hit as well. At the moment my bedroom smells a bit like a chip shop from all the vinegar, but I at least feel safer.** Don't forget to clean that trashcan next to the bed, the light fixture you kept reaching for, and that handful of pencils your used to pen your dying declarations with.***. Spray it, wipe it, set it out to dry.
4- Somehow, whenever I get sick, the side of my bed becomes infested with every book, magazine, small electronic, crossword puzzle in the house. In short, when I get ill, I cocoon like a caterpillar on a bright spring morning. Time to straighten that out. Even my books get the spray treatment... at least the covers get misted and wiped down. (I try and use enough self restraint to keep my really GOOD hardbacks away from sick hands so I can spare them this trauma. Doesn't always work, but I try.) Magazines get tossed into the recycling if I can bear to part with them.
5- Lastly? New everything. Clean sheets pulled out, the mattress cover gets changed, plump those pillows you had in the washer. Pull the dryer sheet out from between the blankets, fluff up your stuffed animals and set them back on their perches. New liners, pads of papers, heck... make sure you have a clean glass next to your bed if you are the parched type.
Over the top? Maybe. But there is no way I want whatever crawled into my system and died there to come back. Puking til you black out is NOT this nerd's idea of fun. (Must be why I skipped all the keggers in college.)
Bit by bit, I'm using up my old cleaning products (cause frankly, I have no idea how to dispose of corrosive and caustic items safely... and I can't bring myself to just chuck full bottles into the bin) and replacing them with more environmentally friendly options. When I ran out of Windex, in came the grapefruit Method cleaner (Target's new line of green products). When the Tilex spritzed its last, I picked up some 7 Generation cleaner. But while I am finding some excellent products out there for green cleaning... they all have the same downfall. While they may be a green substitute for the harsh chemicals of yesteryear, they cost a heck of a lot more green as well. To that end I have discovered a wonderful new book with a load of ideas I'm taking to heart...
But that's for tomorrow. This nerdling is off to crawl back under her cool clean sheets for a bit.
* Simplicity itself. To disinfect just about any hard surface use 1 cup of vinegar mixed in a spray bottle with 10-15 drops of either lavender, tea tree, or eucalyptus essential oil. Shake like crazy and spray. Safe for everyone, and works as well as the expensive chemical crap.
** What can I say. I prefer early chip shop to late plague.
*** I may have read too many historical novels as a child. When in the grips of illness I tend to imagine myself a pale, wan, brave heroine resigning herself nobly to her grave. This fact may one day be used in commitment hearings. We'll see.