Even if bed linens are kept clean, reusable patient/resident pillows pose a cross-contamination risk. This is because variability in disinfection technique, pillow condition and the effectiveness of disinfectant make it difficult to completely clean and disinfect the pillow. Cross contamination may occur from the pillow to the patient/resident, from the pillow to the healthcare worker to patient/resident and from the patient/resident to the pillow.
You should develop clear and rigorous guidelines for decontamination of patient/resident beds and pillows.8
Pillows and their covers should be easily cleanable, preferably in a hot water laundry cycle. These should be laundered between patients/residents or if contaminated with body substances.
And what about the mattress? A linen sheet placed on the mattress is not considered a mattress cover. Patches for tears and holes in mattress covers do not provide an impermeable surface over the mattress. Mattress covers should be replaced when torn; the mattress should be replaced if it is visibly stained. Wet mattresses, in particular, can be a substantial environmental source of microorganisms.9