The ANSWER…. How long do flu germs live on bedding!? 🦠

In times of a global pandemic, high levels of hygiene are crucial. As with many other viruses that affect humans, the flu, also known as influenza, is transmitted via little droplets when you speak, sneeze, cough, or when you touch a contaminated item and surface. The symptoms can put you in bed for days, but have you ever thought about how long do flu germs live on bedding?

Below you’ll find out how long these germs stay on different surfaces, how to clean surfaces, and how to prevent yourself from getting the flu.

Flu Germs on Bedding and Other Fabric

The average life of flu germs on fabrics is between 8 and 12 hours [1]. Sheets and pillowcases are definitely a target location because most sick people tend to get stuck in bed while battling their symptoms. That’s why it’s smart to strip your bed every few days when you’re down with the flu and use new bedding. You will not only get rid of the unpleasant odor, but you’ll also get rid of the germs that are all over the fabric.

Yes, it’s true that flu germs don’t stay on soft surfaces as long as they do on hard surfaces, however, good hygiene after and during the influenza virus [2] is of utmost importance. You don’t want your entire family tackled in bed fighting the flu they got from the bedding. There is no certain evidence that shows why these germs tend to stick longer on hard surfaces, but 8 to 12 hours is quite a long time if you don’t take disinfecting seriously.

Another thing to remember is to also wash your clothes, especially the ones you spent time in while you were sick.

It’s important to know that your blankets, pillows, and comforters can also retain germs and be a cause of transmission. That’s why they should also go through a cycle in the washing machine. If that’s not an option, wait for a few days before you use them again. That’s enough time for the germs to die.

Flu Germs on Hard Surfaces

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your phone, laptop, or the remote, you will touch so many hard objects when you have the flu. Being sick at home for days means endless hours in front of the TV, making tea and juices in the kitchen, and laying in bed with your laptop. All of these things have flu germs on them because you touched them, sneezed, or got little droplets on them.

These are just the common items that you can get in touch with at home, imagine all of the things you touch if you leave the house!

The influenza virus stays the longest on hard surfaces. As we mentioned before, there is concrete evidence that explains the reason why, but one of the strongest assumptions suggests that fabrics contain pores as a part of their structure, hence the germs disappear faster.

These germs can survive on stainless steel, plastic, and other hard surfaces for one and two days [3]. What’s even more surprising, a virus can stay on a door knob for up to four days [4]! Touching objects around you that are contaminated with flu germs can lead to transmission. This is the part where disinfection and regular hand washing come into play.

Flu Germs on Skin

Flu germs can’t survive for a very long time on your skin. The estimated time is between 5 and 15 minutes. This is significantly less compared to hard and soft surfaces, however, it’s still dangerous.

If you already have germs on your hands you can easily transfer them to hard and soft objects that you touch. Also, if the germs are in mucus, they will be better protected and it will take longer for them to die.

The skin is the biggest organ in your body that has its defense mechanisms. The reason why these germs can’t survive a long time is that the skin activates those mechanisms and the germs are soon gone. This does not mean that you can’t get the flu during the 5 to 15 minutes when the virus is on your skin. That’s why personal hygiene, proper washing of hands, and disinfecting with an alcohol-based product are very important.

Cleaning After the Flu

Bedding & Fabrics

After you’re well and back to normal, it’s important that you properly wash the bedding, clothes, and any other fabric that might have gotten in touch with flu germs. Depending on the color and nature of the fabric, opt for the highest setting on the washer that you can use without damaging the material.

Chances are that a regular detergent won’t do the job. Use bleach on all the items so that you can be sure that you’ve disinfected them. These days there are bleach products that are color-safe, so that’s definitely something you want to purchase.

Let’s not forget about the towels that you used while you were sick. The protocol is the same as with bedding and other fabrics. You will need to wash them with hot water if possible and bleach them.

If you can, clean your mattress as well. Chances are that some of the fluids got in the mattress through the bedding, and you don’t want it to be a breeding ground for germs.

Hard Surfaces

Hard surfaces are the most dangerous ones when it comes to flu germs. Since these germs can survive up to two days on hard surfaces, disinfection is such an important step. If you want to avoid getting other people in your home sick with the flu you have to disinfect regularly. Go over all the areas in your home, especially in the room where you spent most of the time while down with the flu. Don’t forget the floors as well. Also, washing hands often and properly is crucial, so that you don’t transfer the germs from your hands to the hard surfaces.

If your kids have flu symptoms don’t forget to clean their toys. Wipe them down often, sanitize, and disinfect them. Some of the other objects you shouldn’t forget are the remote, your phone, the laptop, the bathroom, and the kitchen.

Skin

Before, during, and after the flu, you have to wash your hands. Learn how to properly do it and opt for a hand sanitizer whenever you need to. It should be alcohol-based so that it can destroy germs.

Preventing the Flu

Hand-washing is the most important rule that will help you stay protected against the flu. You will need to adopt the proper hand-washing technique and wash your hands regularly. Each time you come back home, before you eat, shake hands with someone or touch different objects outside, make sure to wash your hands.

Avoid touching your face, especially if you haven’t washed your hands. Also, bring tissue paper with you so that if you have to sneeze you use a tissue and not your hands. Don’t touch your eyes or nose, especially if your hands are not clean.

Whenever you’re outside, cover your mouth and nose. This will not prevent you from getting the flu, but it will prevent you from giving it to others. Wearing a mask when you’re sick is crucial. It’s even better to stay at home until your symptoms are gone.

One of the things that is the hardest to swallow is avoiding close contact with other people. The flu is contagious and the closer you are standing next to someone, the greater the chances are for the flu germs to get to you. Also, avoid handshaking and hugging. If you want to greet someone you can bump your elbows.

Next up is disinfection. Carry hand sanitizer with you everywhere, and make sure that it contains at least 60% alcohol so that it can destroy germs. You should use it whenever you can’t wash your hands. You can also use the hand sanitizer to disinfect objects and surfaces while you’re in public places.

Disinfecting surfaces [5] before you touch them, or disinfecting items before you use them is another way to stay protected.

When it comes to fabrics, as we said before, make sure that you wash everything you can with the highest setting on the washing machine and use bleach for further protection. This means even higher precaution measures and more frequent washing when someone in your home has the flu.

Finally, you need to be in good health to avoid getting sick. Practice a healthy lifestyle, with great habits. Consume more vitamins, diverse food, and choose a physical activity. It can be anything, even walking. It’s important to activate your body.

Conclusion

All of us have been down with the flu and know how hard the symptoms can be, but did you know that flu germs can stay on hard surfaces for two days? Cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces, washing fabrics, and washing hands are things that you should not only do after you’re out of bed but also if you want to protect yourself from the flu.

Citations

  1. https://www.insider.com/how-long-do-flu-germs-live
  2. https://www.today.com/home/how-protect-flu-cleaning-tips-your-house-t121435
  3. https://www.health.com/condition/cold-flu-sinus/flu-virus-live-on-surfaces
  4. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/how-long-do-cold-and-flu-viruses-stay-contagious-on-public-surfaces
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/images/multi-language-pdfs/contamination_cleaning_english_508.pdf
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