How To Wash And Disinfect Bedding After You've Been Sick

After you've been sick in bed with a cold or the flu, it's probably the last place you want to be. Between fever dreams and all of the other symptoms that accompany being sick, your bedding is probably in desperate need of refreshing. If you or someone else has been sick in the bed, especially in the case of urinating, vomiting or defecating, you need to disinfect your bedding as soon as possible. If left to sit, your bedding can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Even if you haven't experienced any of these symptoms, your germs are still in the bed and may linger long enough to infect another household member. 

Whether you're recovered and changing your own bedding out or caring for someone who's been sick, disinfecting bedding is essential. But how do you disinfect different types of bedding safely? This guide will walk you through your options so you can safely clean your home after you or a loved one has recovered from illness. 

It should be noted that when handling bedding someone has been sick on, you should use gloves whenever possible to avoid the transference of germs. 

How to safely bleach bedding

Bleach is unparalleled for its extreme disinfecting powers on and off of laundry. And if you have white cotton sheets, then you're good to go and are ready to bleach your bedding. However, if you have synthetic and/or dyed sheets, you'll be best off doing a bleach test before proceeding with this option. Clorox recommends adding 2 teaspoons of bleach to 1/4 cup of water, then dabbing a part of your bedding that won't be seen, such as the corner of your top sheet, in the solution and waiting 2 minutes. If the color of the fabric is unchanged, your fabric is safe to use with chlorine bleach. Some fabrics to always avoid bleaching, as Clorox notes, are wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex. 

Wondering if you can use color-safe bleach instead? The short answer is no. Color-safe bleach's active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide which is much less effective at killing germs and isn't approved by the EPA as a disinfectant.

Disinfecting bedding without bleach

If your fabrics aren't bleach safe, don't worry, there are other solutions! One of the best no-ingredient sanitizing solutions is good old-fashioned steaming hot water. If you have a high-tech front loading washing machine, there's a good chance you already have a function labeled "sanitize." This uses the hottest possible water on your bed linens, which works to kill 99.9% of germs, says Whirlpool. If you don't have this option, just run your cycle of laundry on the hottest water settings, followed by a high heat dryer setting if your bedding fabric allows, as hot air is also a powerful disinfectant. You can also toss comforters and stuffed pillows in the dryer for some light sanitizing. 

In addition to your regular laundry detergent, you may want a little bit of extra disinfecting power. One of the best natural disinfectants is white distilled vinegar. Just add a 1/2 cup of vinegar directly into your laundry tumbler and proceed with the washing cycle. Once your linens are completely dry, make your bed as normal.