Don’t wash your sheets every week? You may be at risk of falling prey to the bed bugs or dust mites that are one of the most common causes of allergy and asthma.
We often think of bed bugs as the nasty, crawly things that bite and feed on our blood. But we forget about the more common “bed bugs” that we cannot see but which cause havoc if you suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma.
The age old adage is that you should change your bed sheets at least once a week. Changing bedding is no one’s favourite household task, but not washing your sheets at least once a week could cause serious issues to your health including asthma, eczema and rhinitis.
Dust mites – the pesky unseen bed bugs!
Humans shed skin cells at a rate of almost a million per day, that’s around 10g of skin a week, and if you spend a third of your day sleeping, that means roughly 300,000 of these cells could end up in your bed every night.
Plus, our bodies are covered with a vast amount of bacteria, most are harmless, but the bed is a great place for them to breed. These bacteria will build up on sheets if you don’t wash them regularly and can cause infections such as skin and wound infections. Urinary tract infections and pneumonia may develop if they enter the body.
Did you know that humans naturally produce 16 gallons of sweat in bed every year? Dust mites feast off the fluids we excrete during our sleep, such as sweat. The droppings of dust mites are laden with allergens which, when inhaled, can trigger asthma and rhinitis and may also worsen eczema.
Over time, the amount of fungi, bacteria and other debris that accumulate in your bed can be dramatic. Athlete’s foot, yeast infections and viruses can all build up in unclean beds and cause health problems if left unchecked. The build-up can also cause spots, so if you have sensitive skin or are acne-prone, you’ll need to wash your sheets more often. One good shortcut for people who suffer from blemishes on their face only, is to change the pillowcases more often than the rest of the bedding.
So what can you do to improve the health of your bed and limit the risk of infection?
Firstly, wash bedding once a week at above 60°C or if you want to reduce your energy costs, select a lower temperature but use a laundry cleanser. Remember bacteria grow best at body temperature, so a 30-40 degree wash won’t cut it without a laundry cleanser. You can buy this in all the large supermarkets and it allows you to kill the bacteria while washing your clothes and sheets at a lower temperature.
Having a shower before bed can also help to prevent the build-up of bacteria on your sheets and keep the dirt down. If you don’t have to time to shower, make sure you at least wash your hands. Plus, if you have a pet that you allow on the bed, get a blanket for them to lie on and wash that at least once a week.
It may sound like a lot of effort, but the reward of getting into a freshly made, bacteria free bed more than makes up for the five to ten minutes worth of effort it takes to strip and remake the bed.
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