With winter upon us, we hit the time of the year when we dread hearing someone tell us that their whole family has had a Norovirus sickness bug.
The thought that we might get the stomach bug next makes us want to run screaming to the hills. What if they’re not out the of quarantine period yet and symptom-free.
We politely make our excuses and leave but we know it’s probably too late and we know we will get it next!
So, other than locking ourselves away all year, how can we prevent the spread of this stomach virus as painlessly and as quickly as possible?
In this post, we give you some helpful guidelines on how to kill norovirus and disinfect your house after a stomach virus.
It’s not going to be easy, however, a few simple tips can help you stop the spread of a sickness bug to other household members.
Knowing how to kill Norovirus in your home will help you stop the spread of the virus to other members of the family.
What is Norovirus
Norovirus is a highly contagious and common virus causing sickness and vomiting in human beings. More than 23 million people contract Norovirus every year in the United States alone. Symptoms begin about 24 to 30 hours after first being exposed to the virus and most people get better after 48 to 72 hours. you can catch Norovirus from;
- Being exposed and ingesting to faecal matter: ie coming in to contact with someone who has not washed their hands after going to the toilet.
- Touching surfaces which have been contaminated by someone with Norovirus.
- Close contact with someone with Norovirus
- Eating food prepared by someone with Norovirus.
- Vomiting and diarrhoea which lasts one or more days.
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Fever 38 degrees Celcius or above
- Stomach cramping
- Muscle pain
- Generally feeling unwell
- A headache
- Aching arms and legs
How to help someone who has the sickness bug.
- Make sure they are well hydrated by drinking sips of water regularly. Stainless steel water bottles are great to keep by the side of the bed as they keep water cool for up to 24 hours and are easy to add ice to, the 250ml size is great for little hands to use.
- Give children ice lollies or ice pops to suck for extra hydration.
- Keep them at home with plenty of bed rest until they are well enough to return to school or work ( after 48 hours symptom-free ).
- Use paracetamol or Ibuprofen to control temperature/fever.
How you can help protect yourself and your family from the stomach virus.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with hot water antibacterial liquid soap after every time you’ve cleared up urine, sick or faeces. you may want to use a facemask to protect yourself too. Ensure that you follow the correct hand washing technique, this is one of the most important things you can do for disease control. Whilst washing with soapy water will not kill Norovirus it helps to control the spread of the virus by washing the germs away from your hands and down the sink!
- Ensure the person who is sick is washing their hands thoroughly. If it is a small child keep a bowl of hot soapy water and a flannel near their bed to keep their hands wiped clean.
- Clean and sanitize all areas thoroughly before and after caring for a sick family member. A good Bleach spray and bleach wipes are good for surfaces, light switches, toilet flushers, remote controls, and phones. A thorough clean with bleach is good for bathrooms but remember to check the instructions on the product’s packaging as most bleaches have a dwell, time which means it may have to sit on a surface for 5-10 minutes in some cases before it kills Norovirus.
- Wash hands before eating or handling food. One of the quickest ways to spread the sickness bug is via the hands, use an antibacterial hand wash and carry an alcohol hand gel with you if you are eating out. Avoid cooking for others if you are or have recently been poorly. Always follow good food safety procedures if you find you have to cook or serve food. (Alcohol gel does not kill Norovirus so it is not advised use it to replace handwashing )
- Wash all food thoroughly before eating especially fruit and vegetables.
- Wash hands after using the toilet. This is a rule that should be followed even when there is no sickness bug in the home! It is very important to teach kids good hand washing techniques.
- Use separate towels. Each family member should have their own towel to reduce the spread of bacteria on towels. Seal towels in a bag before carrying to the laundry room to avoid spreading the germs.
- Do not mix with other children or adults until symptom-free. It is vital that you do not go out where other people will be, especially in confined areas such as public transport, ships, aeroplanes, the workplace or schools. children should refrain from going back to school until 48hours after the last sickness episode.
- Wash soiled towels, clothes and bedding separately on the hottest wash you can. Use gloves and a mask whilst handling soiled bedding and make sure you wash hands afterwards as an extra precaution. carry all bedding in a sealed bag to prevent spreading the sickness bug. I always add two capfuls of laundry disinfectant into the softener compartment instead of using my usual softner. Dry bedding and towels on the hottest setting you can.
- Please remember small children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses can be very vulnerable to the virus. Put off visiting elderly relatives and friends and people with small children until you and your family have not been sick for 48 hours. Being mindful of public health is paramount in the prevention of spreading Norovirus.
Note: If your child is refusing fluids, has blood in their stools, an unusual rash, stiff neck, is unusually sleepy, has difficulty breathing or any other symptoms ring your GP or take them to hospital.
click here for the NHS emergency helpline
The best way to kill Norovirus after a stomach virus
- Start with the areas affected most by vomit or faeces.
- Wear gloves and a mask.
- Fill a bowl with a diluted chlorine bleach solution for surfaces and disinfectant for carpets and other fabric surfaces. Studies show that although hydrogen peroxide 3% is good for killing salmonella and e.coli ( food poisoning bacteria) it is not good for killing Norovirus. Bleach solution is the best way to kill Norovirus, most disinfectants can not deactivate Norovirus which can live in carpets and on surfaces for up to two weeks.
- Use thick paper towels and disposable cloths
- Double bag all waste for disposal.
- Pay special attention to porous surfaces as these will need more detailed cleaning.
How to clean Norovirus on surfaces
A chlorine bleach solution (see below ) is the most effective way to kill norovirus within the home.
Bleach dilution for disinfection
Bleach needs to be diluted according to manufacturer’s instructions, however, a rough guide for a strong bleach solution would be:
Bleach ( 5.25% or 6.00%–6.15% sodium hypochlorite depending on the manufacturer) is usually diluted in water at 1:10
After applying to the surface area, leave the bleach for a dwell time of approximately 10 to 20 minutes to kill any germs. after this time the surface should be rinsed over with water.
How to kill Norovirus without bleach
Steam is an effective way to kill Norovirus as long as you use it as directed
- 1 minute at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 5 minutes at 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to kill Norovirus in laundry.
To sanitise towels, bedding or contaminated clothing laundry should be washed at a temperature of no less than 60 degrees or hotter if possible. chose the longest and hottest setting you can. Laundry should then be dried in a tumble drier on the hottest setting possible and dried thoroughly. Take care not to overload the washing machine. There are bleach laundry pods you can add to the wash if you prefer, however in the past I have just added a capful of bleach to the drum to kill any germs (but do this at your own risk!)
How to clean vomit from a mattress
- Wipe up as much of the vomit as you can with paper towels and seal them in a bag, dispose of the contaminated bag in the outside bin immediately.
- Strip the bed and carry the sheets to the laundry in a sealed bag. Start the cycle on a pre-wash, after the pre-wash, wash the bedding on as hot a wash as you can (above 60 degrees Fahrenheit) with laundry powder.
- Sponge down the bed with a household bleach solution until all the vomit has been removed and then allow to air dry.
- If duvets have been affected wipe the area thoroughly with bleach solution then put in the washing machine as above. if your duvet is too big for your machine, ask your local laundrette if they will accept it.
- Steam clean the mattress.
How to clean vomit from a carpet
- Clear up any solid pieces from the surface with paper towels.
- Blot up any liquid from the carpet using paper towels, do not rub at this stage or you will spread the vomit. Try to blot it all up until the paper towels are completely dry when you blot.
- Use a soapy solution and sponge to blot clean, keep repeating with a clean solution until all the vomit has been removed.
- Rinse by blotting with a disinfectant solution (remember a bleach solution will kill the Norovirus but may discolour your carpet)
- Blot as much as you can with paper towels to dry the carpet
- Allow to air dry
- Steam clean the carpet or get a professional carpet cleaner in when you can.
- Always check manufacturers instructions on your carpet before starting any of the above recommendations.
How to clean vomit from a car
- Scrape all the solid bits off with a scraper and thick paper towels
- Blot as much of the liquid up as you can with paper towels
- Sprinkle baking powder thickly over the area and leave for 30 minutes
- Hoover up the baking powder.
- With a disinfectant solution ( I prefer dettol) blot the area until all signs of the vomit have disappeared. (bleach solution will kill norovirus but will also remove colour out of fabrics)
- Blot up the excess moisture with paper towels and allow to dry.
- Clean any vinyl areas affected with soapy water then wipe with bleach wipes.
- Open up all windows and doors to help remove any residual smell
- It’s advisable to have the car interior professionally cleaned if you can when you can or steam clean if possible.
How to clean vomit from a car seat
- Remove any removable parts and place them in a bowl of soapy water.
- Scrape any solid bits from the seat using a scraper and paper towels
- Follow the procedure above for cleaning vomit from a car.
- Steam clean if possible.
How to kill germs in the air
It’s not possible to kill germs in the air in a domestic environment. It is, however, beneficial to open all the windows and allow fresh air to circulate throughout the home.
Care package for stomach flu
- Bucket or bowl
- A few changes of beddings.
- Change of towels
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste to brush teeth after vomiting. stomach acid is not kind to teeth and just a very quick brush will get rid of the nasty taste and protect teeth from the acid.
- Antiseptic wipes to wipe surfaces and any areas a sick person may have been in contact with.
- Frozen Ice pops or lollies to give to children or adults if they are struggling to drink fluids.
- Hand gel to help prevent the spread of bacteria to other surfaces.
- Flannels soaked in disinfectant to keep hands and face clean.
- Bottled water for the bedside to prevent dehydration.
- Lucozade or a similar drink to help keep energy up.
- Electrolyte rehydration sachets (available at your local pharmacy) to replenish electrolytes lost through sickness and diarrhoea to prevent symptoms of dehydration. Follow dosage instructions on the packet.
Cleaning after Norovirus kit
- Bleach wipes
- Bleach spray
- Bleach for the toilet bowl
- Thick paper towels
- Bin bags to carry soiled bedding to the washing machine.
- Old cleaning rags you can throw away after use.
- Toilet brush with disposable heads.
- A bleach block for the toilet cistern sanitises while flushing for extra protection and disease control with every flush.
Recovering from Norovirus
When recovering from Norovirus it is important to stay isolated for 48 hours after being sick. Try to drink plenty of fluids and eat light meals. Try to get plenty of rest to help you recover fully.
Do dishwashers kill Norovirus? It is thought that even though dishwashers do kill E-coli they do not kill Norovirus. I usually soak contaminated dishes in a bleach solution, then wash with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
Does vinegar kill Norovirus? Vinegar is not thought to be successful in killing Norovirus.
How long does Norovirus live on surfaces? depending on the surface and temperature it can live on contaminated fabrics for up to twelve days and on hard surfaces for weeks.
If you have small children, use a small seaside bucket as a sick bucket as it’s light and just about the right size for keeping next to the bed or the settee and can be thrown away when they are better.
To read CDC recommendations for cleaning and preventing Norovirus go to the CDC website here