It’s scary but true: in ten years, a mattress can double its weight from accumulated dust, mites, and dead skin cells. Not only does that make it a pain to move, but all those little extras can wreak havoc on your sinuses.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, the best way to avoid allergies is to protect your bedding. This doesn’t mean wrapping everything in plastic, they way your parents kept their furniture when you were five; there are many quality products on the market that keep your mattress clean, but are still comfortable to sleep on and pleasing to the eye.
As tempting as it may be to sleep directly on your new mattress; mattress protectors, fiber bed and feather bed protectors are a must for keeping your mattress as nice as the day you bought it. A hypo-allergenic cover blocks the build-up of mites and mold … and many are made of cloth fitted to zip up around your mattress, are soft to the touch, and won’t slide around. Not only will such precautions mean less sneezing, but they will also keep your bed stain and odor free.
This may sound funny, but let your bed sunbathe every now and then. Your mattress won’t ever get a tan, but the sun and air will help keep it dry, kill dust mites, and eliminate funky smells. Fluffing and shaking out your comforter and hanging it outside in nice weather is a great way to keep it fresh, and it’s also a good idea to flip your mattress regularly (once a week for the first three months and every two or three months after that). This will maintain consistency as well as allow each side a chance to breathe.
When it comes to accidents, besides spot-cleaning, which should be done with cleaners specifically designed for use on mattresses, you can also use a vacuum to clean your bed. Sheets should be washed in hot water and dried on high heat once a week, which will kill any dust mites that might have found their way in them.
Also, just as you protect your mattress, you will also need to protect your pillows. A pillow case may keep your head from directly touching the pillow, but it won’t protect the pillow from mold, mites, or dust. Especially in the case of down pillows, which are sensitive to moisture, you should use pillow protectors as well as pillow cases to keep them clean and prevent allergies. If you are ultra-sensitive, you may want to consider a latex pillow, which will also have anti-bacterial properties.
Finally, if you want to ward off sniffles and watery eyes, try to keep allergens out of the entire environment. If you use a humidifier, make sure it is cleaned regularly or it could contribute to the mold count. You can help reduce mold by keeping the house cool and dry – attending to any leaky faucets or damp areas under sinks. Try to keep dust to a minimum, and if you have pets, train them to stay off the bed – sleeping in their discarded hair and dander is a sure way to invite allergies. You may also want to invest in an air purifier – often, indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air … and if you are going to be breathing it in for eight hours a night, you want it to be clean and well-circulated.
If you take these simple steps to guard yourself from dust, mold and mites, allergies should not be a problem. Of course, you can’t control the climate outside – but at least in your bedroom, you can have a say in the quality of the air … and how it ultimately affects your health.