If you or someone you live with catches COVID-19, chances are you’ll have to recover at home. Medical experts agree that only the most severe COVID cases require hospitalization, so people need to know how to care for themselves and their loved ones. Naturally, a critical part of effective home care is stocking up on the necessary supplies to treat the ill person and protect the rest of the household from infection.

Even if no one in your household is currently infected with COVID-19, it’s always a good idea to have a pandemic first-aid kit well-stocked and ready to use in case someone does catch the disease. Luckily, most essentials for an ideal kit are relatively simple, everyday household items you can acquire easily—and you may in fact already have most of them at home. Read on for a detailed rundown of these home care necessities below:


Because COVID-19 can easily spread from being in close proximity with an infected person, it’s essential for the patient and other members of the household to wear masks around each other. Mask up when entering the patient’s room or any common areas of the house, and keep your distance from each other even with masks on. Your mask should fully cover your nose and mouth for optimum protection.

N95 masks are most recommended, but in the event of shortages, a cloth mask worn over a surgical one makes an acceptable substitute. If you’d like an extra-sanitary cloth option, consider buying antimicrobial face masks online, as these are often made of materials that inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria on the fabric.


Keep several pairs of rubber gloves in your kit, or buy a few boxes of the disposable latex variety. All the infected person’s dishware, towels, bedding, laundry, and waste should be handled with gloves. Like your mask, you should also always have your gloves on when you enter the sickroom for any reason.

Cleaning Supplies

Everything the patient touches, such as cutlery, doorknobs, sinks, and the like, needs to be cleaned and sanitized immediately. Spray these areas with a cleaning solution and wipe them down thoroughly to reduce the risk of surface-borne infection, or use disinfectant wipes for a quick fix. You can also make a DIY bleach-based cleaning liquid by mixing in five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water.

Frequent hand-washing is likewise a must when managing a COVID case at home, so make sure that you have abundant hand soap at home. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and rinse them well under clean running water.

Tissues and Paper Towels

Coughs, sneezing, runny noses, and similar cold- or flu-like symptoms are common in COVID-19 cases. Keep the patient well-supplied with their own stock of tissues so they can cover coughs and sneezes easily. The patient should dispose of these tissues immediately, then wash and disinfect their hands. They should also be using single-use paper towels rather than fabric hand towels for drying their hands.

Hand Sanitizer

While washing your hands with soap and water is the most fail-safe way to kill any germs you might have picked up, it’s still a good idea to stock up on hand sanitizer. Have your patient keep a bottle by their bed so they can use it whenever they have to blow their nose or cover a cough. Caregivers can also use it to clean their hands quickly after checking the patient’s temperature or performing other necessary tasks in the sickroom.

Thermometer and Pulse Oximeter

The patient should keep in constant contact with their doctor and immediately report any new or worsening symptoms. For this purpose, it helps to supply them with a thermometer they can use to monitor their temperature.

Since COVID-19 can have adverse effects on a person’s breathing, many doctors also recommend purchasing a pulse oximeter from a pharmacy or medical supplies retailer. This is a small device the patient can attach to their finger to measure their blood oxygen levels and heart rate. Blood oxygen readings of 95-97% are considered normal, while lower readings from that indicate a need to seek medical attention.

Over-the-Counter Medication

Doctors generally advise managing COVID-19 symptoms with over-the-counter medications you would normally use to treat flu symptoms or other respiratory ailments. Patients can take pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for example, to lower fevers and alleviate body aches. Aspirin also works for adults in these cases but should not be given to children.

If the patient is dealing with swelling and congestion in their nose, decongestant nose sprays drops, or balms can help open their airways and allow them to breathe better. For those experiencing dry cough or throat pain, cough drops and lozenges can be helpful.

Rapid Antigen Tests

Because of rising case numbers, rapid antigen tests are becoming increasingly difficult to come by. If you manage to get your hands on some, though, they’re an absolute must to have in your pandemic first-aid kit. To determine most accurately whether the patient is still infectious or not, serial testing is recommended on a routine basis, such as every 2-3 days.

Some self-testing packages come with multiple tests and detailed instructions on how to do serial testing, including the number of days that should be allowed to pass between tests. If your patient is unsure about their test results or needs more advice on serial testing, contact a healthcare provider.

Being prepared and vigilant can help a lot in protecting yourself and your loved ones from infection, both within and outside your home. And even in the event that a member of your household does catch the virus, having all your important supplies close at hand will make the process of caring for them that much easier.