Wash and Disinfect Sick Bed Laundry

laundry basket, tissues, and teddy bear on top of a mattress

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

When someone is ill, they feel miserable. Having a nice clean bed can bring some comfort. But, while you want to keep the sick one feeling comfy, it is also important to protect yourself and the rest of your family.

Learn how to disinfect laundry and remove yucky stains like vomit, urine, spilled liquid medicines, and blood that can come along with illness.

Handling Sick Bed Linens

When someone is ill, opt for one hundred percent white cotton sheets. Why? They may be boring but are easy to disinfect with hot water. Sheets that are bright colors and/or a synthetic blend cannot stand up to the rigors of disinfecting chemicals.

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to wear proper gloves when handling soiled laundry. 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.

Bed linens used by sick person being changed out with green gloves

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Disinfecting PJs and Clothes

Chlorine bleach used in the correct amounts and with hot water is excellent at disinfecting clothes. Keep in mind, however, that not every type of fabric can withstand chlorine bleach.

The CDC provides guidelines to disinfect your home laundry and protect your family from bacterial infections and viruses without great expense or ruining your clothes. If you or someone in your home wears medical scrubs, you can prevent cross-contamination from office or hospital patients.

How to Remove Liquid Medicine Stains

Liquid tonics have come a long way from the cod liver oil and bitter potions of our grandparents. Some even come in liquid capsules that can be easier to swallow.

Pharmacies and manufacturers have added flavors and colors that make taking liquid medicines more appealing, but the dyes also leave stains. ​Learn how to get them out.

liquid medicine pouring into a spoon
The Spruce / Fiona Campbell

How to Remove Greasy Ointment or Salve Stains

Ointments and salves can also leave greasy stains on sheets and clothes. It is important to remove these stains as soon as possible to prevent permanent staining—especially on clothes.

A tip to get you started: always use the edge of a spoon or dull knife to lift away as much of the ointment as possible. Do not rub! That only pushes the greasy mess deeper into fabric fibers.

How to Remove Vomit, Urine, and Feces Stains

Accidents happen to the best of us. You can try your best to be prepared, and sometimes it just isn't enough. And, these accidents always seem to happen in the middle of the night.

Here's a tip that might make your life a little easier: keep an extra set or two of sheets in the room of the sick person. That will save middle-of-the-night fumbling as you try to find clean sheets.

All of these stains are protein stains and are treated similarly to remove stains and odor. Master one, master all:

How to Remove Blood Stains

Blood is also a protein stain and needs to be handled with the correct water temperature to prevent excessive stains. Treat blood stains as quickly as possible, and they should be easy to remove by following some simple steps.

How to Disinfect Your Washer

Your washer can harbor germs and bacteria and should be cleaned regularly especially after an illness has run rampant through a household. This is especially important if you mainly use cold water for washing. Protect your family with some simple steps to disinfect your washer.

Washer machine wiped down with paper towel, disinfectant and scrub brush

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleaning and Disinfection for Households. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Callewaert, Chris et al. Bacterial Exchange in Household Washing MachinesFrontiers in microbiology, vol. 6, pp. 1381, 2015. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2015.01381