COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, primarily spreads through respiratory droplets. However, it can also survive on surfaces, leading to potential surface transmission.
So how long does COVID live on pillows? This article explores the lifespan of COVID-19 on different surfaces, focusing on pillows, and discusses effective cleaning and disinfection methods.
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- How Long Does Covid Live On Pillows?
- Virus Transmission By Microfiber Pillows
- Using Common Pillows While Traveling Is Risky
- Can You Get Covid From A Hotel Pillow?
- How Long Does Covid Live On Bedding?
- How Do I Wash My Bedding To Prevent The Virus From Spreading?
- How To Stop The Spread Of COVID On Bedding
- So How Do We Protect Ourselves And Others As Best As Possible?
- Understanding The Covid-19 Virus Survival Time
- How Long Does COVID-19 Live on Different Surfaces?
- Frequently Asked Questions
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How Long Does Covid Live On Pillows?
COVID-19 is believed to survive on hard surfaces for about 2-3 days, on cardboard for 24 hours, and in tiny airborne droplets for several hours.
The virus’s lifespan on fabric, such as pillow covers, is not yet precisely known, but it’s thought to be less than on hard surfaces and more than in the air.
Given that bedding, especially pillows, can absorb a significant amount of the virus from an infected person, it’s estimated that COVID-19 can live on pillows for approximately 2-3 days.
However, it’s crucial to wash and sanitize pillows as soon as possible to prevent further spread.
If pillows contaminated with the virus are not sanitized, the virus can transfer to your clothing and be carried around, potentially infecting others.
Therefore, sanitizing your pillows is a necessary step in preventing the spread of COVID-19 after recovery.
Find out more about the different types of pillows.
Virus Transmission By Microfiber Pillows
Pillows, particularly those filled with microfibers, can play a role in virus transmission, as indicated by a study from the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China.
The research, published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, suggests that respiratory pathogens like the SARS-CoV-2 virus can not only settle on the fabric covers of pillows but can also penetrate these covers and infiltrate the microfiber stuffing.
The virus can then survive on these fibers for several hours to several days at room temperature. Once inside the microfiber stuffing, standard sanitizing methods struggle to fully disinfect the pillows.
The likelihood of virus particles penetrating fabric covers depends on the particle size and the density of the fabric weave.
For instance, cotton fabrics with 80 threads per inch can allow up to 86% of NaCl aerosols 0.3–1 µm large, and polyester fibers can allow about 76% of these particles.
Using Common Pillows While Traveling Is Risky
The use of common pillows while traveling, particularly in modes of transport like aircraft, trains, and buses, or in hotels, presents a significant risk for the transmission of viruses such as COVID-19.
Current disinfection practices often overlook the sanitization of pillows. Research has shown that pillows in hotel rooms occupied by COVID-19 patients had a substantial amount of the virus within just 24 hours. The risk is further amplified by the difficulty in identifying asymptomatic travelers who may shed the virus on pillows.
This is particularly concerning in trains where bedding is not changed en route, exposing passengers boarding at intermediate stops to potential virus-contaminated items. While the risk may be slightly lower in airplane travel due to the absence of intermediate stops, current guidelines do not adequately protect against asymptomatic passengers who may shed the virus.
Therefore, the use of common pillows while traveling poses a significant risk and requires more rigorous sanitization practices.
Can You Get Covid From A Hotel Pillow?
While it is possible to contract COVID-19 from a hotel pillow, it can be challenging to definitively trace the infection back to this source. COVID-19 primarily spreads through close contact, respiratory droplets from infected individuals, and airborne transmission in poorly ventilated spaces. The virus can also be picked up by touching your face after coming into contact with a contaminated surface, which is a concern when staying in hotels.
If a previous guest in the same room was infected with the virus, there’s a potential risk of transmission. However, hotels have cleaning measures in place to mitigate this risk, including washing all bedding and conducting deep cleaning of rooms before new guests arrive.
Nevertheless, if these cleaning procedures are not properly executed, there remains a risk of contracting the virus from a hotel pillow. If you have concerns about this, it’s advisable to contact the hotel in advance to inquire about their cleaning processes. For added peace of mind, you might consider bringing your own pillows to reduce potential exposure.
How Long Does Covid Live On Bedding?
COVID-19 can survive on bedding for approximately 2-3 days after a person has recovered from the virus. Therefore, it’s crucial to sanitize your pillows and bedding post-recovery to prevent reinfection and further spread of the virus. Regular cleaning of bedding during the illness can also aid in recovery by reducing the germ load.
When sanitizing your bedding after recovering from COVID-19, avoid shaking it out in the house to prevent dispersing the virus. Instead, place the bedding directly into the washing machine and use a hot cycle for effective cleaning. Hot water aids in eliminating bacteria on the bedding.
Additionally, you can sanitize your mattress by sprinkling baking soda over it, leaving it for a few hours, and then vacuuming away the residue. A disinfectant spray can also be used, ensuring it’s applied evenly over the entire surface and allowed to dry completely before remaking the bed.
Sanitizing your pillows and bedding after a bout of COVID-19 is a straightforward process that can be completed in a few hours. It’s a worthwhile effort to protect yourself and your family from the virus.
How Do I Wash My Bedding To Prevent The Virus From Spreading?
To prevent the spread of the virus through bedding, it’s crucial to wash your bedding properly. The World Health Organisation has stated that coronaviruses do not survive well at temperatures above 56 degrees centigrade. Therefore, washing your bedding at 60 degrees is essential to curb infection rates in your home.
While freezing pillows and pillowcases can eliminate allergens, this method is not effective against many bacteria and viruses. These germs can remain dormant at cold temperatures and become active again when they warm up. Moreover, placing potentially contagious fabrics near food or kitchen surfaces is not advisable. Therefore, high-temperature washing is the recommended method for sanitizing your bedding to prevent the spread of the virus.
How To Stop The Spread Of COVID On Bedding
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 through bedding, several precautions can be taken. Firstly, try to sleep in separate beds and avoid sharing duvets, pillows, and towels. If you’re changing bedding for a person who is unwell, use gloves or ensure your hands are thoroughly washed before and after the task.
Using a washable pillow that can be cleaned at 60 degrees is ideal. Find out: Can You Wash A Bamboo Pillow?
Duvets should also be washed if possible. Employ pillow protectors, pillowcases, and duvet covers that can withstand high-temperature washing, at least 60 degrees. These measures can significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission through bedding.
So How Do We Protect Ourselves And Others As Best As Possible?
To protect ourselves and others from the spread of COVID-19, especially if there’s a suspected case in your household, certain precautions are necessary. NHS England recommends maintaining a 2-metre distance from others and practicing frequent hand-washing. When it comes to sleeping arrangements, if possible, sleep in separate beds, keep windows open for fresh air circulation, and avoid sharing towels and bedding.
If sharing a bed is unavoidable, use your own pillow with a pillowcase and pillow-protector that can be washed regularly. If possible, use your own duvet and change the duvet covers and sheets regularly.
It’s important to note that anti-allergenic pillows and pillow-protectors, as well as ‘anti-bacterial’ pillows and protectors, do not offer protection against viruses.
The best ways to reduce the chance of contamination are sleeping separately, maintaining distance, and regularly changing and washing your bedding.
Understanding The Covid-19 Virus Survival Time
As we navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the survival time of the COVID-19 virus on various surfaces is crucial in reducing our risk of exposure. The type of surface, environmental conditions, and contact time all play a role in the virus’s survival. High-touch surfaces like light switches, remote controls, and toilet seats, whether non-porous or fabric, can harbor the virus for varying amounts of time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and infectious disease specialists recommend taking extra precautions to maintain cleanliness. Regularly disinfecting surfaces, particularly high-touch areas, with approved products is a key measure. A diluted bleach solution or hydrogen peroxide can be used, and a list of disinfectants is available from the CDC.
Laundry, too, requires careful handling during the coronavirus pandemic. Dirty laundry from sick people should be handled minimally and with protective equipment, if possible. Laundry detergent and the warmest water suitable for the fabric should be used, followed by a thorough drying period.
In the face of the respiratory syndrome coronavirus, it’s essential to remember that person-to-person transmission is the primary mode of spread. Therefore, limiting contact with people, especially those showing symptoms, is paramount.
In conclusion, while the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive on surfaces for periods of time, the risk for transmission can be significantly reduced by following the recommended guidelines. Regular cleaning of surfaces, careful handling of laundry, and minimizing contact with others are all part of the solution to mitigating the spread during this challenging time. As a rule of thumb, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene, both in our environment and on our bodies, is our best defense in the fight against this pandemic.
How Long Does COVID-19 Live on Different Surfaces?
|Duration of Survival
|Metal (e.g. doorknobs, jewelry, silverware)
|5-9 days (1)
|Wood (e.g. furniture, decking)
|4 days (1)
|Plastics (e.g. milk containers and detergent bottles, subway and bus seats, elevator buttons)
|2 to 3 days (1,2,3)
|Stainless steel (e.g. kitchen appliances, sinks, handrails)
|2 to 3 days (4,2,3)
|Cardboard (e.g. shipping boxes)
|24 hours (4,3)
|Copper surfaces (e.g. pennies, cookware)
|4 hours (4,2,3)
|5 days (3)
It is important to note that the amount of live virus decreases over time on surfaces, and the duration of survival can vary depending on sanitation efforts, sunlight, and temperature. The risk of infection from touching something that had the virus on it for a few days (or even a few hours) would lessen the risk. However, it is still important to regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and wash your hands to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get COVID-19 by touching a surface?
The exact likelihood of contracting COVID-19 from touching a contaminated surface is still uncertain. While the risk may be slightly higher with variants like Omicron due to its lifespan, surface transmission is generally considered less likely than airborne or droplet transmission, as well as direct contact.
According to the CDC, several unknown factors influence the risk of surface transmission, including the duration the virus remains on a surface before contact, the impact of environmental factors like heat on the virus’s potency, the efficiency of virus transfer from a surface to your hands and then to your mucous membranes (like your nose or eyes), and the amount of virus needed to cause an infection.
As a precautionary measure, it’s advisable to avoid touching your face until you’ve washed your hands. This practice can help reduce the likelihood of getting sick from contaminated surfaces you may have touched.
How do you protect surfaces against COVID-19?
Regular cleaning and disinfection of surfaces are crucial in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. Cleaning surfaces with soap and water can damage the coronavirus to a certain extent, but for optimal protection, it’s recommended to follow up with a disinfectant that’s proven effective against coronaviruses and other germs. You can verify this by checking the label of your disinfecting wipes or spray.
Frequent handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent potential transmission of the coronavirus from surfaces to your skin. If soap and water are not immediately available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, and ensure to wash your hands at the earliest opportunity.