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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Scrub, a dub, dub...

On the page “Leave or Stay” (http://immortalalcoholic.blogspot.com/p/leave-or-stay.html) I write about the difficulties of caretaking an end-stage alcoholic. Many times potential caregivers don’t see the whole range of chores that come with the job. One of those chores is the cleaning up of bodily fluid messes. Alcoholics have a tendency to vomit blood as well as lose control of their bowels and bladder at any time and any place. Cleaning up can be dangerous for the caregiver if not done properly. Below are some suggestions and hints about cleaning up after the alcoholic in your home.

  1. Use latex gloves and protective masks when handling any of the articles of clothing or bedding whether or not they contain excrement.
  2. Put waterproof pads between the sheets and mattress.
  3. The alcoholic’s laundry must be done separate from the family laundry.
  4. Keep a very small trash can by his bed. Use a plastic can liner – doubled. He can use this if he needs to vomit and can’t get to the bathroom. Clean using the bleach mixture.
  5. Don’t allow him to handle any food. Prepare his meals. If he eats during the night, prepare food and snacks that he can eat while you’re sleeping. There’s no point in designating breakfast from dinner. He can’t make that leap – so just fix what you know he will like.

When Riley was drinking a handle of vodka a day, I was left with a lot of clean up. I used the bleach/water mixture, but I still had to do a lot of scrubbing. Below are some of the methods and products that worked best for me.

General cleaning: 1 part bleach, 2 parts hot water, 1 cup of Borax Laundry Soap, 1 cup Washing Baking Soda and a bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid. I used this for hard surfaces except hardwood floors. I used a scrub brush, paper towels and old face cloths.

Laundry:  Amway sells the best laundry products I have ever used.  The SA8 is awesome by itself, but for Riley’s clothes and bedding, I used the SA8, Tri-Zyme additive and bleach. The Tri-Zyme is great for getting out blood and feces. I separated colors from whites and then pre-washed the whites in very hot water, high water level, hot wash & hot rinse.  Then I sent them thru a regular wash cycle with fresh ingredients. I dried them in a very hot dryer.

For colored laundry, I used the same cleaning combo of SA8, Tri-Zyme, but omitted the bleach and added Borax and Baking Soda. I did a pre-wash and then a regular wash using warm water, warm rinse. If they clothes were still smelly, I put them thru a second wash – same as the first. They were then dried in a hot dryer.

Carpet: This was by far the most difficult to clean. Fortunately I had a Bissell Pro-Heat Pet Carpet Cleaner. I pre-treated the area with Oxi-Clean and got on my hands and knees with a scrub brush. I used a mask and double latex gloves to prevent inhalation and touching the gunk. If I wasn’t happy with the results, I added a bit of hydrogen-peroxide (be careful, it can lighten the carpet color), scrubbed it around and hoped it looked better. Then I used the regular carpet cleaner with the intended for pets and used the cleaning machine. After that I did a rinse with Borax and Baking Soda. I put it into the tank where I would normally put the cleaning liquid. It worked pretty well, but the stain does keep reappearing after a couple of weeks. The best thing I did for the carpets was to have a professional carpet cleaner come in every three or four months and do just the areas where Riley spent most of his time.

Bathroom: This room was the smelliest, sickening room of all. There were feces on the floor, toilet, walls, light switch, door handle, sink, faucets, etc. We had a tile floor so I made my bleach/water combo and literally poured it on the tile. Then I let it stand for about 30 minutes. I had a deck brush and used that to scrub up and loosen the stuff. Then I used the broom and swept it up into the dust pan, dumped it into the toilet and flushed. Then I used another lighter pour of the liquid onto the floor and mopped it up. After that, I used my steam mop to go over the floor which further sanitized it. Now I could actually walk into the bathroom to clean the rest.

For the outside of the toilet, I used a hand-held steam gun and then wiped it down with bleach. For the sink and countertops, I sprayed bleach directly onto the areas and wiped them down. Then I used the steam gun just to sanitize it even more. I used Comet inside the sink, rinse, and wipe with bleach.
I made a new batch of the bleach/water and added Borax and Baking Soda for wiping down the walls, door handles, anywhere else that need a cleaning. In the bathroom, bleach was my friend.

A lot has changed for me since those days. Riley is not drinking and is not making nearly the mess that he did when he was inebriated. However, his current physical condition means he makes a mess when he changes his underwear. It isn’t nearly as bad as having poop smeared on the walls. Do not doubt – he is messy – he’s just not so unsanitary.

There are lots of products on the market that I have not tried, but have discovered their uses since my heavy cleaning days. I’ve made a table of some of the things I used and my discoveries so you can see what may work in what capacity. From this you may end up making your own concoctions that work best for you.

Product
Tile / Hard floors
Wood floors
Counter-tops
Bath fixtures
Walls
Carpet
Laundry
Upholstery / Mattresses
Bleach
X

X
X
X

X
X
Borax
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
Baking Soda
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Dawn
X
X
X
X
X
X

X
Tri-Zyme
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
SA8






X
X
Oxi-Clean
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
Murphy’s Oil Soap

X






White Vinegar

X





X
Pledge Liquid Wax

X






Mineral Spirits

X






Club Soda





X

X
Meat Tenderizer



X
X
X
X
X
Hydrogen Peroxide
X

X
X
X
X
X
X

To purchase any of the Amway products, use the below link:

Now that you have a list of possible products, here are some links to tell you exactly how to use them to get that fresh, clean home that hard to achieve with an alcoholic in the house.






That’s it for my housekeeping tips. Be sure to post in the comments what has worked for you and what has not. Give us your tips, we could all  use them.

2 comments:

ADDY said...

Oh, I so remember those days and so glad they are in the past!

Anonymous said...

When do you start to think about nursing home care or hospice?