Preventing C. diff

Key points

  • Washing with soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of C. diff from person to person.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and laundry, especially if someone is sick in your home already, can reduce your risk of C. diff infection.


C. diff can live on people's skin. People who touch an infected person's skin can pick up the germs on their hands. If they don't wash their hands, they can spread the germs to people and things they touch. Taking a shower with soap and water can reduce the C. diff on your skin and lessen the chance of it spreading.

C. diff germs are so small relative to our size that if you were the size of the state of California, a germ would be the size of a baseball home plate. There's no way you can see C. diff germs on your hands, but that doesn't mean they're not there.

Remember: C. diff germs can be on or in your body and you do not get sick. But that doesn't mean you can't spread the germs to others.

Stop the spread

At home

  • If you have C. diff or are caring for someone with C. diff, wash your hands with soap and water every time after you use the bathroom and always before you eat. Remind relatives and friends taking care of you to do the same.
  • Try to use a separate bathroom if you have diarrhea from C. diff. If you can't, be sure the commonly touched surfaces in the bathroom are cleaned before others use it.
  • Take showers and wash with soap to remove any C. diff germs you could have on your body.

In a healthcare setting

  • Make sure all healthcare providers clean their hands before and after caring for you. Ask them to clean their hands if you don't see them do so.
  • While caring for you and other patients with C. diff, healthcare providers will use certain precautions like wearing a gown and gloves. This will prevent the spread of C. diff to themselves and other patients.
  • If you're in the hospital, wash your hands with soap and water every time after you use the bathroom and always before you eat. Remind relatives and friends taking care of you to do the same.

How to kill C. diff germs at home

Finding C. diff germs in the home is not unusual, even when no one in the home has been ill with C. diff. Most healthy adults who come in contact with C. diff in the home won't get sick.

Hospitals use special cleaning products to kill C. diff. You can also use one of these products at home. Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions. Those instructions often include cleaning first, such as with soap and water, and then using one of the recommended disinfectants.


If someone in your house has C. diff, focus on regularly cleaning items that you touch with your hands, including:

  • Doorknobs
  • Electronics
  • Refrigerator handles
  • Shared cups
  • Toilet flushers and toilet seats


If someone in your house has C. diff, wash items they touch before others use them using the hottest water that is safe for those items. If these items have visible poop, rinse them well before laundering in a washing machine. Use chlorine bleach if you can safely wash the items with it. Items to wash include but are not limited to:

  • Bed linens
  • Towels
  • Household linens
  • Clothing, especially underwear

Consider wearing gloves when handling dirty laundry and always wash your hands with soap and water after, even if you use gloves.

It's OK to dry clean clothes worn by a patient infected with C. diff. However, dry cleaning isn't as effective as other methods at killing the spores. Therefore, only use this option for clothes that can't be machine-washed.