What’s been living in your bed?
Sometimes there’s nothing better than snuggling up in your bed after a hard day’s work, but a new report suggests you may be in for more than just a good night’s sleep.
“It’s easy to see when a kitchen counter needs to be wiped clean or a floor needs to be mopped, but keeping a clean bed can be easily overlooked,” says Dr. James Malow, an infection prevention specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “However, your bed attracts dust, dust mites, bacteria and fungus just as much, if not more than, other surfaces in your home.”
Four out of five homes in the US have at least one bed with dust mites, according to the American Lung Association. And, although dust mites seem pretty disgusting on their own, consider the fact that dust mite feces are also likely sharing your bed and can even cause an allergic reaction for some people. So what are some options for keeping these pests far from your nightly place of comfort? The American Lung Association recommends reducing humidity in your home, covering mattresses and pillows, washing bedding regularly and frequently damp mopping your floors to help eliminate them.
Other bacteria in your bed could include sweat and bodily waste from pets.
“Sheets are exposed to sweat, dead skin cells, saliva, oils and dirt from your body while you sleep,” says Dr. Malow. “If you have pets, the amount of those elements could be dramatically increased. Think of washing your sheets like washing your clothes; you wouldn’t wear the same outfit for two weeks without washing it, and your bedding should be no different.”
Dr. Malow adds that certain parasites can also be spread through bedding, including bedbugs, body lice and chiggers. However, these unwanted sleepover guests can be killed with regular laundering and drying on high heat.
Bed sheets should be washed separately from other clothes and towels in hot water weekly when possible. Also be sure they are completely dry before they are put back on the bed. And remember not to leave out your pillows and comforters on laundry day!
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.