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The Importance of Decontaminating Your Sheets Properly

The vital importance of keeping your home clean and germ-free cannot be overestimated in this uncertain time. As CoronaVirus in US has led many millions to self-isolate in their homes, keeping your living spaces germ-free is crucial.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that frequently touched surfaces be cleaned and disinfected often as part of the preventative actions to maintain health within your home and to avoid exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Part of this protection is to keep your sleeping space as germ-free as possible, including your bedsheets and pillowcases. Below is some advice on how to keep your home’s bedsheets clean and sanitized to help keep your family happy and healthy for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and through any subsequent flu seasons in the future.


How Germs Can Spread from Your Sheets


Germs can spread from person to person and throughout your home via your sheets in three main ways:


  1. If you share your bed with another person, germs can pass from one person to the other via your pillow or bedding.
  2. Germs can be passed along when handling dirty linens by transferring from the linens to your hands and then to other surfaces.
  3. When washing your laundry, germs can transfer to other clothing articles in the wash if not properly laundered.


The below recommendations introduce methods to address all of these potential hazards, providing solutions to contain and kill off any virus or other germs that could transfer.

These steps become even more vital within a household that is more susceptible to virus, due to health or age risk, because a member of the family is an essential worker who leaves the home often or especially when one of the members of the household is a medical worker who comes into contact with sick people regularly.

How Often Should You Change or Clean Your Sheets?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the majority of people change their sheets once a week. However, if one is ill, these guidelines tend to change.

If you or a loved one has been sick, it is very important that you clean the sheets as soon as the illness ends. You need to wash away all of the germs that have been shared with the sheets during the time of illness.

Because germs can pass from one person to another via bedsheets, it is recommended that you not share a bed with a sick person and instead set up a separate space for someone with an illness and to keep this person in isolation as much as possible.

As for the changing of sheets, in order to avoid frequent contact with the ill person, the CDC advises to clean the isolation space and linens only on an as-needed basis so that you do not have unnecessary contact with any germs.

Wash all linens at the end of the illness, as breathing and sweating upon your bedsheets can cause germs to live upon the sheets which you can then continue to breathe in.


How Should You Clean Your Sheets?

Given that germs can spread in the laundry from one article of clothing to another, a good practice in washing the sheets of one who has been ill is to wash them separately from your other laundry.

If washing the linens of a sick family member, use gloves when handling these linens to avoid unnecessary contact. Dispose of these gloves after handling. If gloves are not available, washing your hands well after contact with the bedsheets. Avoid shaking out the dirty laundry to avoid the spread of any germs.

Wash your sheets in hot water [or warm depending on the needs for the sheets] to kill off any germs that may live on the linens. Color-safe, bleach-based detergents may be used to further help to eliminate germs. [not sure if this is advisable for your sheets either, you may consider removing] Additionally, drying on the hottest setting and for a longer period of time can help to dry out any viral droplets.

Consider a disposable or washable hamper liner to avoid contamination of the dirty laundry hamper.


When is It Time to Replace Your Sheets?

Sheets can normally be replaced after 2 years if properly cared for. However, if there is much concern about a member of the family having experienced an illness such as COVID-19, it may be within your interest to replace their bedsheets altogether to get rid of the bedsheets used when ill.

While this should not be necessary if proper cleaning is done, it may be preferred, especially if the sheets are already close to the 2-year replacement timeframe.

Taking a little bit of extra attention, care and time and being aware of how the care of your linens plays a part in prevention can make a difference in your household.

All of the above are best practices to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy and that, of course, is the most important thing.