Pillow hygiene

216

BY CYNTHIA WAIRIMU

Usually, when we think about our bedside manners, it is not always we think, “I need to have my pillow and mattress cleaned,” especially if you do not have children that will wet your bed. However, it is a thought that should cross your mind now.

Seeing as it were that we spend a huge amount of time in our beds throughout our life span, it is important to note the following:

We shed dead skin all over our pillows on a daily basis, and since we lie on them, they become the perfect breeding place for mold, bacteria, fungi and mites. After two years of use, 10% of the weight of a pillow is dust mites and dead skin according to one Hygiene Doctor, Lisa Ackerley. When we sweat and lie on them, we provide these living organisms with food, warmth and the perfect breeding ground to multiply.

What does this mean for our skin and general health?

These mites are not in themselves dangerous; however, their excrement contains enzymes that some people are allergic to. They can make living with asthma much worse. You will also notice flu-like symptoms such as coughing, running nose, irritation in the eyes, hay fever, hoarseness, rashes, hives, sore throat, sinus problems, difficulty breathing, eczema and rhinitis.

Now if you have a compromised immune system, the fungi can cause adverse health issues: even without having asthma, respiratory issues can develop. 

So how do you clean and take care of your pillows?

  • At least once a month, air out your pillows on a sunny day.
  • Dry your hair well after washing it before you lie in bed so you don’t wet the pillows
  • Machine wash your pillows and dry them off completely every six months: feather based pillows need to be hand washed: note that feather based pillows are not recommended for those with respiratory issues
  • Once you wake up, the bed is usually warm, avoid making it immediately so that it can air and the cold will discourage growth of bacteria
  • Replace your pillows regularly, synthetic pillows at least after two years
  • Avoid sheepskin and material that is likely to create a breeding comfort for these organisms
  • We love our pets, but keeping them in the bedroom may not be the safest idea as they have bacteria they carry and leave all over
  • Dust and vacuum as often as possible, keep the bed area clean
  • Use of latex and memory foam pillows discourages the growth of these organisms as opposed to fibre-based pillows. They are a little pricy in comparison but serve their purpose well
  • Use a washable pillow cover and use high heat to wash so as to kill germs
  • Waterproof and dust mite proof covers will serve you well
  • If you live in a humid environment, the use of humidifiers will also work to reduce the risks of growth of these invaders

Do your research on a good pillow and then invest in some that will serve your needs, comfort and health initiatives