jennieI have H1N1.

But don’t worry. I haven’t left the house for six days now, except for a trip to the doctor three days after contracting the illness. That trip yielded a painful white stick jabbed up my nose. Fifteen minutes later the doctor came back with a grin and said, “Well, you’ve got it! There’s nothing we can do.”

It’s been pretty awesome since then. My main job has been to lie on the couch, feverish, and watch news reports about how people my age are dying from this strain of flu.

But unlike many years of living solo and scattering germ-filled tissues with abandon, I now have a healthy boyfriend to consider. He immediately started washing his hands compulsively, and I started feeling guilty on top of feverish.

I’ve gotten advice to use bleach, Lysol, and hand sanitizer to disinfect my house. But the idea of coating my home in chemicals just makes me feel sicker. In a way, the harsh chemicals seem just as toxic as the warped flu taking over my body.

Vinegar: I consulted with my challenge partner, Susanna, who affirms vinegar is a great natural sanitizer. This blog also claims it kills bacteria, germs, and mold. I previously made a batch of vinegar solution that is equal parts vinegar and water, so I have a head start.

I’ve sprayed vinegar on everything. The couch cushions. Doorknobs. Light switches. Sinks. Kitchen surfaces. For around an hour, the house smelled like I was living at the bottom of a bottle of salad dressing. But I opened the windows and the smell faded, and I’ve repeated it twice since.

So far, the vinegar, in combination with constant hand washing and careful coughing and sneezing, have kept my boyfriend healthy. But in my search for eco-friendly cleaning tips, I came across a couple others that fellow flu-bies might want to try:

Natural anti-bacterial soaps: When I made soaps with local blogger Jennifer Mason, she recommended making anti-bacterial soap by adding certain herbs, like basil, parsley, and oregano.

Germ-killing sprays:
This post from Gaiam recommends an antiseptic spray that smells a little nicer than my vinegar mixture. Just mix droplets of essential oils with a cup of purified or distilled water. Antiseptic oils include cinnamon, clove, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and balsam pine.