Preventing allergies and promoting health

Each year, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, most of which are caused by allergens in their own homes. In an attempt to eliminate these allergens, many people participate in the annual spring cleaning event. In addition to allergens, spring cleaning is a good way to rid your home of other germs and dirt that could also impact your health.

If you are participating in the spring cleaning frenzy, you may have overlooked one of the biggest sources of allergens and other germs in your home: your bed.

What's hiding in your pillow:

Many unwanted things are absorbed deep into your pillow every time you rest your head for a seemingly peaceful night's sleep.

Dust mites

You may be disturbed to learn that microscopic eight-legged dust mites are the most common cause of allergies and asthma, and that they reside in your pillow and mattress. They survive by feeding on the skin flakes that people shed and are attracted to the moisture of a person's body heat. Every day, a human adult sheds about a gram and a half of skin, capable of feeding a million mites, which easily find their way onto and into pillows each night.

Skin irritants

An unhygienic pillow can not only cause allergies, but also skin problems. Every night, your pillow absorbs things like bacteria, makeup, oils, etc. Then, the next time you lie down on your pillow, these different elements get trapped in your pores and cause inflammation and rashes.

What gets absorbed by your mattress:

Mold, mildew and more - your mattress suffers the same problems as your pillow on a larger scale, and then some.

Pet Allergens

If you have pets, they can add allergens to your sleeping conditions. Generally, when it comes to dogs, allergic reactions are caused by their dander (dead skin), saliva and urine. Even if they don't sleep on the bed, this can be a problem because their dander can travel to places the dog has never been. This can lead to respiratory problems, eye and/or skin irritation, and runny or stuffy nose.

In addition, potential accidents can seep into your mattress and lead to mold growth, which can be detrimental to your health. The Mayo Clinic notes that mold can lead to coughing, eye irritation and other problems. Also, when linked to asthma, it can lead to airway problems such as restricted breathing.


If you're a heavy caffeine drinker throughout the day, it raises your heart rate, keeps you awake, and causes you to sweat excessively when you finally sleep. Whether it's from a big vanilla latte or you're just someone who sweats a lot at night, all that sweat seeps deep into your mattress and stays there. In addition to leaving ugly stains and being unhygienic, sweat can also promote mold growth.

Cleaning Tips:

Don't worry! This doesn't mean you have to throw out your bed every two weeks to stay clean and healthy.

Eliminate dust mites

Wash your bedding regularly; your sheets and pillowcases should be washed at least once a week and your other bedding items, such as comforters, should be washed once a month in hot water. As for stuffed animals, wash them regularly and, if possible, keep them off the bed.

Your vacuum cleaner is also a useful tool; you can use an upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner or a handheld vacuum on your mattress to get rid of many dust mites.

Eliminate accidents

There are four cleaners you can use to eradicate urine odors and allergens from your mattress: borax, baking soda, vinegar or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Note that to some extent Borax is toxic, and it is recommended to try the others first.

For powders: dampen the area, cover it with the cleaner, work the cleaner into the mattress with a cloth or paper towel, and then vacuum up what remains.

For liquids: spray the area, blot up excess moisture, then let the area air dry.

Tackling sweat stains, germs and odors

The first step to removing all the negative effects of sweat is to vacuum the entire mattress. This will help you avoid introducing dust or allergens into the mattress while you are trying to clean it.

Next, use a sponge to clean the stains you see by combining two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part non-bleach dish soap. After the mixture has sat for twenty minutes, dampen a cloth with cold water and use it to clean the remains.

After a spot cleaning, you can use distilled vinegar in a spray bottle to disinfect the mattress. To do this, simply spray the formula on the mattress, then let it dry by turning on the fans and opening the windows. As the mattress dries, the strong vinegar smell will dissipate.

Once dry, the final step is to freshen your mattress using baking soda. With a light hand, sprinkle it evenly over the surface of your mattress; it will absorb and neutralize the odor. After an hour, remove the baking soda with a vacuum cleaner.

Prevention is your best bet:

While there are many ways to clean your bedding and mattress surface, the unavoidable truth is that you can't wash your bed thoroughly - there are always traces of these allergens out of reach. That's why it's best to implement preventative methods, rather than trying to fix the problem after the fact. By taking preventative measures, spring cleaning will be more effective and efficient.

Set yourself up for success

At night, remove any makeup or facial products you've applied, and then wash your face to remove any germs or allergens that have gotten on your face during the day, so it doesn't end up on your pillow.

Another strategy for reducing dirt on your pillow is to apply nighttime products a half hour before bed rather than just before bed.

As for your bed setup, keep your mattress off the floor of your room with a bed frame.

Protect your bed

Even after vacuuming, dust mites can remain because they are inside the furniture, out of reach. A mattress and pillow cover is a way to stop them in their tracks. By establishing a barrier that separates the mites from you, it doesn't trigger allergies and keeps the new dead skin flakes you remove from reaching them, preventing them from thriving. Plus, cleaning your bedding is virtually effortless.

Allergies are a common problem that affects many people, with one of the main sources of allergens being the bed. Spring cleaning is a useful tactic to combat this problem, but an even more useful and practical tactic is to take preventative measures to avoid allergens in the first place.

We hope these tips can help you avoid some allergies and improve your spring cleaning routine.

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