Even if you’re feeling no symptoms at all, it’s entirely possible that you’re contaminating your home with the coronavirus. And there’s one place that may be hosting more of the virus than you’d care to think about. According to a new study published by the American Society for Microbiology, your bed, especially your pillow and bedsheets, is most likely carrying high amounts of virus particles if you have COVID-19.
You might be thinking you feel 100 percent these days, but research shows that as much as 45 percent of all COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, meaning you have the virus but are not showing signs. However, even if you are asymptomatic, you can not only still infect others directly, but you can leave COVID-19 droplets behind for others to catch from the surfaces you touch or breathe upon.
To find out how common that is, the researchers behind the American Society for Microbiology study collected samples in hospital rooms of confirmed coronavirus patients in Chengdu, China, and found that 40 percent of surfaces were contaminated with COVID-19. The researchers identified the top three most contaminated sites in the patients’ rooms as their bedrails (54 percent), their pillows (50 percent), and their bedsheets (50 percent).
What’s particularly telling is that the samples were taken from negative pressure hospital rooms that were cleaned and disinfected by nurses twice daily. Imagine, then, how contaminated a bed may be in a room that’s not nearly as sterile as the COVID-19 ward of a hospital.
Similar findings published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases showed how quickly people with COVID-19 who don’t have symptoms can contaminate a hotel room: in less than 24 hours. That study also revealed high viral loads of contaminated coronavirus droplets on pillowcases and sheets in particular.
The authors of both studies say their findings demonstrate the critical importance of properly cleaning and disinfecting bedding. While the American Academy of Dermatology generally recommends washing your sheets once a week and changing pillow cases two to three times per week, it’s important that you step things up amid the pandemic. New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, told HuffPost that “while there are no hard and fast rules, generally I’m telling my patients to cut normal wash periods in half.” That means, washing your pillow cases at least every other day and your sheets twice a week.
And if you’re spending a night at a friend’s house or a hotel amid the pandemic, you might want to bring your own bedding. For information on the coronavirus lurking in your home, check out This Is the Room in Your Home Where Coronavirus Lurks the Longest.