Before the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore, we may not be very conscientious about cleaning our bed sheets and pillowcases. Or even our own clothes. However, it is time to think about our laundry and hygiene habits.
There has been research on how long Covid-19 virus can stay on surfaces. On metal surfaces such as doorknobs, jewellery and silverware, the virus can live for up to 5 days. On plastics from milk containers to train and bus seats it can survive for 2 to 3 days and on wood, a total of 4 days. There is scant research on how long the virus lives on fabric, but the guess is it does not live for as long as on hard surfaces. Also, we can wipe down hard surfaces but not fabric.
According to dermatologists and doctors, there is a specific routine to washing bedding. Some people might wash their bedding once a month, to once a fortnight or weekly. Dermatologists recommend that sheets and pillowcases should be washed once a week. This is based on how close a fabric touches the skin. The closer it is in contact with your skin, the more frequently it should be washed.
Duvet covers can be washed less frequently, every other week. Pillowcases should be changed two to three times a week while items such as pillows, mattress protectors and comforters which do not come in direct contact with your skin can be washed once a year.
The frequency of washing should be increased if you are suffering from any skin condition such as eczema or allergies.
We contaminate our bedding with about 50 million dead skin cells a day. The sheets are also mixed with sweat, makeup, dirt and viral particles we pick up during the day. It is highly recommended during the pandemic that we head straight to the shower and change a fresh set of clothes before jumping into bed.
There have been concerns that viral particles can get trapped into the fabric weave and inhaled when we sleep. Thus, this makes sense to increase the frequency from the normal times when we wash our bedding.
Use the warmest appropriate water setting along with good quality (anti-bacterial) detergent when you wash your bedding. However take care if you are washing your Jersey Cotton sheets as hot water may cause it to shrink. Also, do not shake the laundry in case you disperse the virus in the air.
No matter how you increase your hygiene habits, there are other forms of disinfection to prevent your bedding from a high risk of being contaminated.
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