Dear Home Ec 101,
So, twice this has happened lately thanks to little girls who don’t always flush when they’re supposed to. I have all the towels to mop up the water and um mess, from the toilet overflow itself. Then I have to wash the towels, floor, and toilet. And then I feel the need to run a bleach cycle in the washing machine, just in case. And I also feel like after mopping the floor I need to disinfect the floor. Then I want to disinfect the mop. So this is a big annoying process. What are your thoughts on these unpleasant messes?
Flustered in Flushing
Dear Flustered in Flushing,
Properly washing your hands with soap and water is just as effective as washing with antimicrobial soap. It’s not the Triclosan that gets your hands clean; it’s the soap bringing the germs into the water, where they are then rinsed away.
When cleaning, even very germy things, the same principle applies.
Unless someone in your house has a compromised immune system -I’m talking about a baby that has been in the NICU, an elderly relative, chemo patients, etc. There is no need to go crazy with disinfection in the bathroom. In general, the act of cleaning takes care of almost everything. The act of washing your hands properly after using the toilet and before preparing food takes care of the rest.
Does this mean I don’t recommend thoroughly cleaning your bathroom after a sewage backup?
I mean, it’s not quite as necessary to do as many disinfecting steps as you’re undertaking.
Regular bathroom cleaning is sufficient in most households when there hasn’t been a sewage backup. Everyday use is one thing; fecal matter is a special case.
If you mop the floor thoroughly using your favorite soap and water, you’ll get up just about every germ. Rinse your mop and the bucket thoroughly, and then go back over with a mild bleach solution (Read How to Use Bleach Safely). The act of disinfecting the floor will also disinfect the mop and the bucket simultaneously. The germs, like e. Coli or staph, will be killed while they are cleaned up.
PAY ATTENTION: The first step of getting rid of as much organic matter (the actual dirt, grime, or filth) is the most important one.
As far as the towels, again, the soap and water situation works here, too. Just wash the towels by themselves, on the hottest cycle, with the longest agitation possible. (Still use the large load setting, you want as much water flow as possible.) Then, add 2 TBSP of bleach to the wash water about five minutes into the agitation cycle.
I’m assuming you’re not using your guest towels to clean up toilet water, right? This is the same method recommended to clean flood-contaminated clothing. It is adequate for your needs, as well. If you’re still feeling skeeved, run a cycle to wash your clothes washer, but that is probably overkill.
Also, it’s not just girls; I’m fighting the same battle with my boys. Remember last week’s post on how to use a plunger? I’ve been getting a fair amount of practice here, too.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.