Is it important to wash bedding when sick with cold or flu to prevent “re-contamination”?

I actually find it funny when I see on face book that people ask if they should wash their new bedding before use. Of course you have to. It is like buying new under wear.

Well the best one during this pandemic is the title of this news piece.

“Is it important to  wash bedding when sick with cold or flu to prevent re-contamination?”

So I went on the internet and google a few keywords and chose 3 experienced medical people’s answers I could understand and share with my readers.  Was very interesting and worth a read.

David Kenagy

 Pediatrician, Pediatric Nephrologist in civilian and USAF settings.

When your immune system conquers an infection, it has permanent recall of the specific germ that caused it.

We can compare the situation to something you’re familiar with. In the following story about a creature that can harm you, I’ll put in parentheses the germ version of my story.

You suffered a nasty bite from a creature named Buster (Influenza H1N3). You know the one: he’s a mammal (virus) of the genus called canine (RNA virus) and species called Dog (Influenza). But he also comes from a specific parent and has siblings. All of the pups from this particular line hate humans, have a white front paw, pointy ears, are terriers, one yellow eye, and several other features that makes them unmistakable (H1N3). You bought a tranquilizer gun, and from now on, whenever any of Buster’s parents, descendants, or close relatives approach you, you protect yourself. However, in time, Buster’s distant cousins (H1N1, or H2N2) might come to your town. As it happens, they don’t have the white forepaw, so when you see them, you assume they don’t bite people…but they do. After they bite you, you’ll recognize their family, too. But you have to get bitten before you pay attention enough to learn how to recognize them.

In the case of the ‘common cold’ virus, there are >80 different strains. So you can be bitten yearly for 80 years before you recognize every one of them. And that’s just one virus type. People have symptoms of a respiratory infection with adenovirus, influenza, coronavirus, picornavirus, metapneumovirus, respiratory syncytial virus…(I could go on). When you get sick soon after clearing one germ, it’s easy to misunderstand a new germ with similar symptoms and think it’s the same germ.

But the specific ONE you just had can never get you again.

Timothy Sly

Epidemiologist, professor, Ryerson University, Toronto,

Viral agents cannot reproduce outside of the living cell of the host, and the viruses that cause colds and various types of influenza cannot survive a dry and exposed environment more than a matter of an hour or so at most.

This kind of disinfection was important when dealing with infectious bacterial diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, meningococcal meningitis, shigellosis (bacillary dysentery), and the wide range of Streptococcal and Staphyloccocal infections that were more common 2 generations ago.

That kind of disinfection was both “concurrent” (meaning that contaminated bedding, clothing, and other objects or “fomites” were continuously collected and sent to the hospital laundry), or “terminal” (meaning that this took place after the recovery or death of the patient, and even the the rooms were disinfected and fumigated as well.

This was still done with smallpox because it was so dreaded, and in the same way, ebola virus (EBV) contaminated materials would be either incinerated or chemically disinfected just to avoid the possibility of viable virus remaining present.

The viruses (there are many) that cause the common cold and different types of influenza, will be inactivated in minutes or an hour or so. That said, most people would still want to take bedding and clothing from a case of cold or ‘flu through a good laundry cycle – even for peace of mind!

‘‘When someone is ill, opt for one hundred percent white cotton sheets. … At the very least, keep the sheets away from your face and body. Always wash the linen as soon as possible to prevent cross-contamination in the hamper with other clothes and follow these disinfecting tips. Transmission can also occur by inhaling drops of germ-filled air after a contagious person coughs or sneezes or by sharing food utensils or cups.” During cold and flu season, the cold virus can linger everywhere’’


Nabeel Hamza

Bachelors and Masters in Microbiology, Works for a BiotechPharmaceutical company

In my understanding it is important to wash the bed linen to prevent ‘recontamination’, for the very same reasons Hospitals change their’s.

Cold and Flu is caused by a virus which can infect only as a droplet infection[1], Therefore if the bed linen carries any body fluids of the patient there is a possibility of another infection,though the possibility is less,

  • prevention is better than cure and
  • don’t take chances with your health even if it were something as common as cold.

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