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How To Clean A Hospital Bed

White Hospital Bed

Cleanliness is more than just a matter of aesthetics – it’s a matter of life and death. Hospital beds, in particular, are breeding grounds for a wide range of harmful pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. If you are nursing a patient at home or hospital it is crucial to know how to clean a hospital bed to get rid of these microscopic organisms. 

The cleaning process is not simple as effective cleaning requires thorough cleaning of each part of the bed to maintain the hygiene and safety of the patient. Let me break down the process of disinfecting a hospital bed. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Hospital Bed

First of all, it’s better to know about the important components of the hospital bed. These parts of the bed must need to be cleaned. 

The main parts are a metal frame, foam, air, or gel-made mattress, side rails, and wheels. These are the few areas that need attention while cleaning. Further, modern hospital beds may feature control panels for adjusting the bed’s position and other functions. So, the control panel also requires hygiene. 

Step 1: Gathering Necessary Supplies

It’s essential to gather all the necessary supplies to ensure a safe and efficient experience. This step may seem trivial, but having the right tools on hand can make all the difference in achieving a thorough and effective clean. 

  • Clean Sheet and Pillowcase: Bring the clean sheets and pillowcases to replace them with the dirty ones. 
  • A Hospital-Grade Disinfectant: It is a cleaning solution specifically designed to kill a broad range of harmful pathogens. This solution often contains active ingredients like quaternary ammonium compounds or bleach. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to make a proper solution and avoid any damage. You can also use a mild detergent solution. 
  • Clean Rags or Paper Towels: Choose between rags or paper towels for wiping the surface. Rags are environmentally friendly while paper towels are disposable and avoid cross-contamination. Alternatively, you can use a clean cloth or sponge. 
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): PPE includes gloves, masks, and eyewear.
  • Plastic Bag: Sturdy plastic bags are not only necessary for keeping the mess but also useful to prevent the spread of germs. 
  • Vacuum Cleaner: A vacuum cleaner to clean the surface thoroughly. 

Step 2: Prepare The Bed

Remove Bedding: Now it is time to prepare the bed for cleaning and first of all start by stripping off all soiled linens, including sheets, pillowcases, and blankets. Carefully roll or fold these items inward to contain any contaminants, and place them in the designated plastic bag.

It is recommended to wash these sheets and covers once a week because they are in direct contact with the patient and prone to body oils and dead skin. Continue reading to learn how to clean bed sheets and pillows. 

Remove Extra Stuff: Next, discard any disposable items like plastic cups, utensils, or medical supplies that may have accumulated around the bed area. These items can harbor germs and clutter the space, making it harder to clean effectively. Also, take away the personal belongings of the patient and caretaker.  

Step 3: Cleaning the Mattress

Once the mattress cover or protector is removed, inspect the mattress for any visible stains or spills. Gently scrub the stains, taking care not to saturate the mattress with excessive moisture.

Once the stains have been treated, allow the mattress to air dry. You can also use a vacuum to remove any dust, dirt, and debris from the mattress. Disinfect the upper and lower back of the mattress after damping the cloth in a grade disinfectant solution. 

Proper cleaning of the mattress and its cover eliminates the potential sources of infection and creates a fresh, hygienic sleeping environment for every patient who occupies that bed.

Step 4: Cleaning the Bed Frame and Surfaces

Bed frames and surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned as these areas frequently come into contact with patients, healthcare workers, and visitors, making them prime real estate for germs and pathogens.

Begin by applying your hospital-grade disinfectant solution to the bed frame, ensuring thorough coverage of every nook and cranny. You should pay special attention to areas that are frequently touched, such as the side rails, as these can harbor a significant number of microorganisms. 

Further, remember to give the headboard and footboard a thorough once-over, as these areas can often be overlooked. Then wipe down the whole bed frame using clean rags or paper towels from top to bottom and side to side. 

Once you’ve covered the entire bed frame and surfaces, take a step back and allow the disinfectant solution to work its magic. Most hospital-grade disinfectants require a specific dwell time – typically a few minutes – to effectively kill harmful microorganisms.

Consult the product label or your facility’s guidelines to ensure you’re allowing enough time for the solution to do its job. 

Lastly, wipe down the surfaces with fresh rags or paper towels, removing any remaining moisture or residue. 

Step 5: Clean the Wheels

Lock the wheels and start wiping them using a damp cloth or sponge. You can use a hospital-grade disinfectant or mild detergent solution.

Pay attention to the areas around the wheel axles, as dirt and debris may accumulate there. Dry the wheels thoroughly before unlocking them.

Step 6: Clean the Control Panels

Clean the control panel using a soft cloth slightly dampened with a mild detergent or disinfectant solution. Then gently wipe the surfaces of the control panels. Take care not to use excessive moisture to prevent any damage to the electrical components. Dry the control panels thoroughly using a clean cloth.

Step 7: Replacing Linens and Finishing Touches

First up, it’s time to dress the bed in fresh, clean linens. Start by draping a crisp new fitted sheet over the mattress, taking care to tuck in the edges and smooth out any wrinkles or bunches.

Next, add the top sheet, followed by a cozy blanket or bedspread. Don’t forget to top it all off with freshly laundered pillowcases, encasing each pillow in a soft, hygienic layer.

Once you’re satisfied that every inch of the bed has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, it’s time to take care of the used cleaning materials.

Carefully gather any soiled rags, paper towels, or disposable items and place them in the appropriate receptacles for proper disposal or laundering.

How to Wash Bed Sheets

It is recommended to wash the bed sheet once a week. You can wash sheets with mild-warm water that is appropriate for sheet material with detergent.

Use the recommended sheets cycle in the washer following the guide. Otherwise, you can wash them on a regular cycle as it does not damage sheets linen, or polyester. 

How to Wash Bed Pillows and Pillowcase

It is important to maintain the freshness and cleanliness of bed pillows and pillowcases. They are constantly in contact with the faces and quickly become dirty and germ-prone. 

Let’s start with the pillowcases. These protective covers should be laundered frequently – at least once a week for most people, and even more often for those with allergies or skin conditions. Stripp off and toss them into the washing machine with the right settings.

Hot water (appropriate for fiber) is ideal for killing germs and dust mites, while a gentle cycle will help prevent damage to the fabric. 

But what about the pillows themselves? While it may be tempting to simply fluff and reshape them, pillows can harbor all sorts of unpleasant guests, from sweat and body oils to saliva and even mold spores. Experts recommend washing pillows every three to six months to keep them fresh and hygienic.

Depending on the type of pillow, you may need to take a few extra steps. For down or feather pillows, a gentle cycle and mild detergent are a must to prevent clumping or damage. Synthetic pillows can often be machine-washed in a warm or cool setting, but be sure to use a gentle or delicate cycle to avoid breaking down the filling.

If your pillows have a musty odor, consider adding a bit of baking soda or vinegar to the wash cycle – these natural helpers can help neutralize odors and freshen up even the most stubborn smells.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Are there any specific cleaning guidelines for electric hospital beds?

Electric hospital beds require additional precautions when cleaning to avoid damage to the electrical components. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or consult with the hospital’s maintenance department for specific instructions.

Q2. Can I use bleach to clean a hospital bed?

Bleach is not recommended for cleaning hospital beds as it may cause discoloration or damage to the bed’s components. It is best to use mild detergent solutions or hospital-grade disinfectants.


Cleaning a hospital bed is a critical aspect of maintaining a safe and hygienic healthcare environment. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this comprehensive article, healthcare professionals and caregivers can ensure that hospital beds are clean, free from contaminants, and contribute to the well-being and recovery of patients.

Remember to adhere to proper cleaning practices, use appropriate cleaning supplies, and consult with the hospital’s maintenance department for any specific guidelines or requirements.

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