It’s unpleasant to think about, but your bed could be one of the dirtiest places in your home. Dust mites, dead skin cells, body oils, food crumbs, dirt picked up from the floor by your bare feet and body fluids that include bathroom particles and sweat are just a few of the unsavory characters you may be sleeping with. And if you let pets share your bed the icky list grows even longer. These items don’t just linger on the top of your sheets where they can easily be washed away; they seep into your mattress causing stains and odors and shorten the life of your mattress. They may also be causing you to have nighttime allergies that rob you of a good night’s sleep. Fortunately, you can improve the environment in your bed with a few easy steps.
At minimum, sheets should be washed every other week – once a week would be ideal. If someone in the family is sick, changing their sheets every day may speed their recuperation and limit the spread of the illness. Use a natural disinfectant such as borax or tea tree oil to thoroughly cleanse a sick person’s bedding.
Wash sheets and pillow cases in hot water soapy water and dry them thoroughly on medium heat. Placing damp sheet back on the bed could cause mold or mildew to grow in your mattress.
Wash blankets, quilts, dust ruffles and comforters monthly, or more often if pets sleep on your bed. Pay close attention to care labels and follow their instructions.
Pillows should also be washed regularly. Most types, including down-filled pillows, can be machine washed on the gentle cycle and tumble dried on low. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Fluff pillows daily to help keep them clean and hang them on a clothesline occasionally to air out.
Dust-Mite Mattress Covers
If someone in your family suffers from dust-mite allergies, a traditional mattress cover may not be as helpful as you think. A dust-mite mattress cover is especially designed to encase the mattress and prevent dust mites and other allergens from settling into the fabric. Dust mite covers are also available for pillows, comforters and box springs. Wash them regularly according to the care label.
At least once a year, and spring-cleaning is a great time, give your mattress a complete cleaning. Here’s what a thorough cleaning might look like:
- Strip all the bedding from the mattress, including the mattress cover.
- Mix three to five drops of lavender essential oil into one cup of baking powder, place the mixture into a fine sieve and sprinkle over the mattress. Let it sit for at least one hour.
- Vacuum the mattress thoroughly with a hand tool.
- Steam clean the mattress with a hand-held steamer. Mentally divide the mattress into four or more sections, depending on the size, and steam one section at a time. Do not directly wet the mattress or use water-based cleansers on it. Allow the mattress to dry completely.
- If stubborn stains remain, mix a dry paste of baking soda and lemon juice and lightly scrub it into the stained area. Allow the paste to set for up to one hour and vacuum up the dried mixture.
- Flip the mattress and repeat all the steps on the second side.
A clean, fresh bed is a pleasure to sleep in, and knowing your family isn’t snuggled into a petri dish of dust mites, body fluids and dead skin cells will help you sleep even better. With regular care and a yearly deep-cleaning your mattress may last longer, nighttime allergy symptoms may decrease and you will, hopefully, have some very sweet dreams.