The coronavirus pandemic has many of us thinking more about how often and thoroughly we should clean our homes and belongings.
But what about our sheets and other bedding?
Germs can spread easily when pillowcases and sheets are shared by more than one person, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service warns.
Thankfully there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Here’s what experts have to say about washing bedding during the coronavirus pandemic.
How often to wash bedding
Fabric that is closer to the skin — including towels and bedding — should be washed most frequently, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner told the Huffington Post.
Before the pandemic, he recommended washing pillowcases and sheets once a week and duvets every other week since they don’t come in contact with the skin as frequently.
His guidelines have changed since the onset of coronavirus.
Now Zeichner recommends cutting typical wash periods in half, HuffPo reported, meaning that sheets should be washed at least twice a week.
However, dermatologist Hadley King says the best thing you can do for your family is focus on cleaning yourself when you get home.
“I think this makes more sense than focusing only on bed linens,” Hadley told HuffPo. “This may mean more showers, more hair washing and more changing clothes and washing ‘outside clothes’ more often, but it will help keep you, your home and your bed clean.”
Related tip: The same process can help you fight off spring allergies, too.
How to wash bedding
When it comes to laundering your bedding during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to wash items as directed by the manufacturer, with a few additional precautions.
The federal agency also warns against shaking dirty laundry for fear it could spread the virus.
You should also take care not to “hug” dirty laundry close to your body, per the New York City Department of Health’s guidelines for businesses.
When washing, be sure to use the warmest water setting appropriate for the fabric and dry your bedding completely, according to the CDC. Be sure to disinfecting clothes hampers when you’ve put your last load in the wash.
No washing machine?
Your best bet is to stock up on extra sheets and pillowcases to help you keep your bedding fresh and clean, Wirecutter reported.
Washing the bedding of an ill person
If someone in your home has tested positive for coronavirus or suffered its symptoms, you should take extra caution when washing their bedding, but there’s no need to wash it separately, according to the CDC.
Good Housekeeping recommends wearing gloves when handling the bedding of someone who’s been sick and washing with bleach, if appropriate, in water that’s at least 140 degrees.
When your laundry is finished, don’t leave it sitting in the machine — the damp environment will make it easier for any leftover germs to multiply, Good Housekeeping reported.
When you’re done, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands, according to the outlet.