Many people do not realize how important the cleanliness of their bed is, pertaining to their health. In an interview, a micro biologist at NYU called a slept in bed a “botanical Park” and said animal dander and parasites, pollen, soil, lint and dust mite debris and fecal matter all becomes “SIGNIFICANT” within a week.
Bed sheets should be washed at least once per week, ideally twice per week and more often if needed. Pillows should be washed at least twice per year and protected with a mite barrier pillow protector that goes in the wash with every sheet washing. Blankets, bedspreads and comforters that have limited contact with the body and the sheets should also be washed twice per year, more if necessary. I use a cotton blanket that lays on my top sheet under the quilts and duvet. I launder that every couple months. Here’s why:
- Almost every bed has dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that feed on dead skin cells. Every human being sheds about 1 million dead skin cells per day. A large number of those cells are shed while sleeping. Also, many people spend more time in or on their beds than just sleep time. A build up of dust mites can lead to a compromised immune system and allergies. The longer your sheets go unlaundered the more your bed becomes infested. Also the more people in and on the bed, as well as pets, the more compounded the infestation. Dust mites breed, live, poop and die in your bed. (as well as the rest of your house, especially carpet, rugs and upholstered furniture)
- Body oils. As you sleep your body detoxes and secrets oils which soak into your sheets and bedding. Body oils can smell, stain and be difficult to get out. Washing your sheets more frequently can help control this.
- Sweat. Each of us sweat an estimated 26 gallons per year. When you sweat in your bed the moisture becomes what scientists call an “ideal fungal culture medium”. Studies have found up to 16 different species of fungus existing in pillows. The studies used both feather and synthetic pillows 1 1/2 – 20 years old.
- Bodily fluids. At some point everyones beds have contained saliva, blood, urine and vaginal and anal secretions.
- Food crumbs and particles. Most all of us have eaten the late night snack or munched on popcorn or chips during a movie in our beds. Some eat whole meals there. Microscopic bugs feed on food crumbs.
*Pillows harbor mold, yeast, bacteria and fungus.
If someone is sick the sheets should be washed every other day and the pillow case changed every day. Germs from the illness can linger causing a less rapid recovery.
- Wash sheets by themselves, not with blankets, towels or clothing. This cuts down on lint and laundry “debris”, if you will that may cling to your sheets providing mite refuge.
- Airing your bed can cut down on dust mite numbers. Direct air exposure can dry out the dust mites and kill them. I air my bed by pulling the covers back and exposing the bottom sheet for a couple hours before making it. If you are not a bed maker, pull back your top covers and expose your bottom sheet until you sleep again.
- Vinegar kills 99.9% of all germs. Add a splash to your wash if you like. Whatever you launder will not smell like vinegar. Still use your normal detergent along with it.
- One quarter cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice is a natural brightener if you need it.
Follow this washing regimen for bedding and enjoy a healthier bed. You will feel the difference and sleep better too.
* I wash our linen sheets twice per week. The clean bed feels amazing. My husband is a head sweater as many people are so his pillowcase gets changed in between washings. I know he is more comfortable and sleeps better.
My blog post “The Healing Power of Linen” may be of interest to you.