We vacuum our floors and clean our windows, but why don’t we take more care of the piece of furniture we spend one-third of our life on — our mattress.
On average, a mattress has a lifespan of seven to ten years. Over that time span, your mattress becomes soiled with bacteria, allergens, dust mites and bodily fluid.
Dust mites are a tiny bug that are invisible to the bare eye. These pesky creatures are known for feeding on tiny flakes of human skin and producing allergens that we inhale when we sleep. For individuals that are prone to allergies, these little pests might be the trigger. The average used mattress is home to anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites. Yikes!
Your bed should be a place you are recharged and restored, not a place that makes you sick. This guide is designed to teach you how to keep your mattress safe and sanitary in four easy steps (so you can rest easy at night).
Wash your sheets regularly
According to a study by Mattress Advisor, the average American changes their sheets every 24 days. That’s a lot of opportunity to leave dead skin cells, sweat, body oil and love juices behind. That’s why experts recommend washing or changing your sheets every week.
When washing your sheets, avoid jamming too many in the washer at once. Not only does overloading the washer machine harm your appliance, but your laundry doesn’t come out as clean. That’s because when a washer is jammed packed it’s harder for the detergent to move around and get the job done. You should also avoid washing your sheets with other items to prevent tangling. As always, wash with similar colors.
As a rule of thumb, make sure to check the label for washing instructions; however, cotton sheets are normally okay on any cycle. Be sure to choose the appropriate soil level of your sheets, but beware that over-washing your sheets can cause them to wear out faster.
While any water temperature will do, it’s recommended you wash your sheets in warmer water during flu season to reduce the amount of allergens.
Use a mattress protector
Another great way to keep your mattress clean is to add an extra layer of protection.
Neil Seed, the founder of the Odd Mattress Company, explains using a mattress protector acts as an extra barrier between you and your body.
Inevitably, bacteria and debris found on and in our mattress is going to build up overtime. You can think of a mattress protector as the shield between you and that bacteria. This build up of bacteria starts with our own dead skin cells and eventually leads to microbes settling in, according to Philip Tierno, a microbiologist at New York University.
Here’s what you should look for in a mattress protector:
- Look for a mattress protector that covers 100% of the bed. Some protectors come in the form of a fitted sheet. However, for optimal protection, look for an encasement that zips on and covers the entire surface area.
- If you are prone to sleeping hot or are shopping for a child, you may consider getting a waterproof mattress protector. This type of protector will protect against, spills, sweat and other fluids that pose a threat to your mattress’ cleanliness.
- To keep the health of your mattress top notch, find a protector that is machine washable. You won’t want your shield against the imminent bacteria getting soiled.
Other benefits of mattress protectors include helping stabilize your body temperature and prolonging the lifespan of your mattress.
Air it out
Dust mites thrive in warm, moist environments. However, when humidity levels drop, dust mites die. Stripping your bed of its sheets will remove the moisture dust mites need to thrive, causing them to dehydrate and die, according to Dr. Stephen Pretlove.
Airing out your mattress each day is a great way to rid it of dust mites and reduce allergens.
To air out your mattress, you don’t have to do any heavy lifting. Simply pull off all the linens and protectors and let the mattress breathe. Take it one step further and open the blinds of a nearby window to let the sun dry out your mattress even more.
Allow your bed to breathe for at least a couple hours each day before making it.
Vacuum your mattress
Speaking of airing out, according to Adrian Leary from Revival Beds & Mattresses, while your mattress is exposed, you should run the vacuum over the surface to collect any dust or dead skin cells that might linger otherwise. The upholstery attachment will work just fine unless you prefer to invest in a serious mite-sucking hand vac. Pay close attention to the seams and divots as that is the most common place for dust mites to thrive.
To take your cleaning a step further, sprinkle baking soda all over the surface of the mattress and let it sit for an hour. According to the GJP Carpet Cleaning Company, baking soda will suck up any lingering odours. Once the baking soda is done working its magic, suck it up with the vacuum.
By doing this every three months, you will keep your mattress hygiene in good standing.
Now you can sleep easy at night knowing you are preventing your mattress from becoming the breeding ground for bacteria.
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