Following on from last week’s post “Eww, gross! 10 yucky things you’re sleeping with every night”, we thought we’d share some ideas on how to keep your bed as squeaky clean as possible.

For some people, near enough is good enough. You might be happy with a fortnightly sheet change and airing your bedroom with the windows open most days. For others, bed hygiene is like a religion! Everything is clean to an almost-OCD level, and that’s fine too. Whatever rings your bell is perfectly ok, unless you experience hives, rashes, eczema, respiratory allergies or other symptoms of a ‘sick’ bed.

Here are some tips you may or may not have thought of or may or may not currently be doing.

Bed linen

A fresh, clean bed is so much more inviting to sleep in and can actually help to ensure you sleep well.

  1. A weekly change of sheets is recommended. Remember, you sweat, drool, shed dead skin and lose strands of hair every single night. The aforementioned post goes into greater detail about the blechh things we leave on our sheets.
  2. If you only own one set of bed linen including sheets, doona, blanket and so on, invest in a second set. That way, if you can’t get your washing dry one day for whatever reason, you’ve got a standby ready to go.
  3. Change your pillowcases more often than your sheets. At least if you do that – say, every 4 or 5 days – you’re keeping fresh what gets close to your face and a number of entry points for germs (mouth, eyes, nose, ears).
  4. Use pillow protectors and mattress protectors. They are cheaper than pillowcases and certainly cheaper than beds and they can be much more economically replaced than what they go on. They provide an extra layer of protection against germ infection and contaminants like bodily fluids, food and pet dander.

Revise your habits

Avoid habits that lead to poor hygiene.

  1. Don’t eat, drink or smoke in bed.
  2. Try to shower right before bed.
  3. Consider the hygiene aspects of having your pets in bed.

Laundry day

When washing your bed linen, use methods and products that help reduce bacterial load.

  1. Dry your sheets in the sun if possible. The sun, with its ultra-violet rays, does an excellent job of bleaching and disinfecting laundry. Just don’t leave them out there too long if your sheets are of a deep colour.
  2. If not in the sunshine, even in the fresh air is perfect. Avoid fading and hang your sheets on a line where circulating air will dry them.
  3. Unless you have an expensive clothes dryer like a condenser unit, your tumble dryer may only twist your sheets, preventing them from drying properly. You should never put damp sheets back on the bed because mildew can grow and infect your mattress too.
  4. Line drying your sheets leaves them with a sweet, fresh fragrance and a crisp finish. If you’ve already made the bed with your second set, fold the clean sheets immediately and put away. If they’re going straight back on your bed, you won’t even have to fold them which eliminates one annoying task.
  5. Choose antibacterial laundry detergents or use a good, deep wash if someone in the family has a virus, wounds or is vomiting or has diarrhoea. Hot water fades coloured sheets more rapidly so an antibacterial agent can do the work instead. Throw the jammies in too!

Other bedding

  1. Don’t forget to replace your pillows every year to two years. They absorb all those nasty things like body oils, dead skin cells, saliva and so on and even a pillow protector isn’t going to work magic. Scientists examined 10 pillows that had been used for 18 months to two years by families and found an array of different fungi on them all. Mould is almost a sure-fire way to trigger asthma attacks.
  2. Turn and flip your mattress every month or two months.
  3. Replace your mattress every five years if possible. If you love your mattress and don’t want to lose it, organise a thorough, specialist mattress clean once a year.

You probably didn’t think your bed was such a, well, hotbed of germs and grossness, did you? No need to get anxious about it. Just think of which of the above items will make you feel better for doing them. The thought of sleeping longer, better and without itches or wheezing is very tempting!