The winter months mean it’s flu season, and all kinds of bacteria and viruses are roaming around. In the case of seasonal flu, the way you are most likely to catch it is, According to the CDC (opens in a new tab)airborne droplets spread when other people with the flu cough, sneeze, or even talk near you.
However, if you or your partner has the flu, another way it spreads is through your bedding; we can unknowingly spread bacteria and viruses while we sleep, which is spreading the infection to people who sleep on the same bed. The ideal way for anyone in bed. So it makes sense to keep your bedding as clean as possible when the flu is in the air, but how much should you do?
Answer, according to Ethical Bedding (opens in a new tab) CEO James Higgins might surprise you: He suggests that if you have a cold or flu, you should try changing your bedding every 72 hours. But before you panic about all the extra laundry, here’s a proviso: “You don’t have to wash your bedding,” he adds, “but you should get fresh sheets to get rid of the germs that might be lingering on your bed.”
How long can flu germs survive on bedding?
Influenza virus can survive outside the body 24 hours or more (opens in a new tab), depending on various factors, including the type of surface it lands on, humidity and temperature. Nonporous surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, and phones are where the flu virus can live and spread, while porous surfaces, including bedding, are less susceptible to the virus.
“The porous fabric absorbs moisture and actually draws moisture away from the virus, keeping it dry,” Higgins explains. “The lack of moisture is what causes the structure of the virus to degrade.” This also needs to be considered when choosing the best pillow, as many options have comforters designed to wick moisture, creating an inhospitable surface for bacteria and viruses.
Higgins said bacteria can survive on bedding for hours; however, different types of bedding may mean longer or shorter survival times. “The ideal bedding to prevent the spread of germs is to create an environment where it’s hard for viruses and bacteria to exist,” he says.
What are the most hygienic bedding?
Man-made fabrics such as nylon and polyester are not very absorbent, so they give bacteria and viruses a better chance of surviving. “They typically create a sweaty environment throughout the night, which is uncomfortable for humans but ideal for bacteria,” Higgins noted.
“Having breathable bedding that wicks moisture away from the body creates a more hygienic sleeping environment,” he adds. “Any virus introduced into bedding will quickly break down due to dehydration.”
Standard cotton is a better choice, he says, but not by much, because its short-staple cotton is less absorbent than long-staple cotton, and therefore less able to wick moisture. For best results, Higgins recommends using organic cotton, known for its breathability and moisture-wicking properties, and surprisingly, semi-synthetic Tencel: “The absorbency of the fabric gives it antimicrobial properties and creates harsh Feel the environment for any invading bacteria,” Higgins said.
How to Prevent the Spread of Germs in Bedding
So while bacteria may not actually survive that long in your bed, depending on the fabric of your sheets, pillows, and other bedding, you don’t want to give them any chance. In addition to changing all bedding every 72 hours, Higgins recommends washing bedding frequently in hot water.
“If the fabric allows,” he continued, “add some color-safe bleach or hydrogen peroxide to effectively disinfect the sheets (but be careful, as this may damage the sheets, depending on the material). They should also be given Time to dry properly in the dryer or in the sun.”
If you do have the flu in your home, he also recommends changing and washing pillowcases daily – they’re most likely to carry the virus – and other sensible precautions include opening windows and drapes as much as possible to let stale air out while benefiting from the disinfecting properties Sunlight.
If you succumb, our guide to 6 tips to help you sleep better when you have a cold can help you get the rest you need while your immune system works.