Looking forward to those chilly winter nights and the thought of snuggling into your nice warm bed? Well before you get too comfortable, you'd better read this...
They are the creepy crawlies that live unseen between your sheets, multiply by the minute and can leave you with horrible flu-like symptoms. The disturbing reality is most of us are getting into bed with thousands of nasties like dust mites every night and aren't taking the proper precautions to ward against their infestation.
Dust mites are the number one cause of allergies in Australian homes and could very well be the reason why you're suffering from a runny nose or watery eyes. These pesky mites feed on dead skin from humans and animals and can live for three to four months in things like couches, curtains, carpets and most horrifyingly of all, beds.
The warm environment of your bed is like an incubator for these unwelcome little house guests and they can breed rapidly in seldom-laundered bedding.
As the cooler months approach, we tend to spend more time indoors and consequently, shed more dead skin in our homes. This in turn leads to more dust mites and an influx in allergens during winter.
The average Australian bed can have approximately 10,000 dust mites living in it at any one time, however, it's not the dust mites themselves that cause allergic reactions - it's their droppings!
Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to ward off unwanted bed fellows and keep your bedroom healthy this season:
- Protect your bed. Make sure you cover your mattress, pillow and doona/quilt/duvet inner with dust mite resistant covers like those in Lorraine Lea's healthy bedding range. Products like the Healthy Fibre Quilt, Greenfirst Mattress Topper and Mircrofibre Pillows are all treated with BIOFRESH, which works to repel bedroom nasties, making them ideal for asthma and allergy sufferers.
- Wash regularly. According to a recent Lorraine Lea survey of 1000 people, almost half of us aren't washing our sheets enough. The average person sheds 50g of dead skin every week - most of it in our bed. This provides a buffet for dust mites who love feeding on dead skin. To keep a healthy bedroom, it is recommended that sheets and pillowcases be washed weekly in water hotter than 55°C.
- Hot tumble dry. The heat of the tumble dryer (used for 30 minutes or more) will kill any dust mites that survived the washing process.
- Replace pillows. Consider replacing pillows that have reached or are nearing their expiry date. After 2 years, your pillows could be holding 10 to 15 percent dust mite waste.
- Invest in a good vacuum. If you haven't got one already, you might consider purchasing a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Unlike other models, this will actually pick up dust mite waste and eggs.