Caring for Beds and Mattresses
Whether heaped with pillows or minimally spare, beds, mattresses and bedding will stay in top shape with these tips.
- Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer
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Controlling allergens in the bedroom
We share our sleeping quarters with more than family pets or beloved teddy bears. Carpet, window treatments and mattresses collect dust and dander and provide a happy playground for dust mites. Found anywhere there are humans, humidity and higher temperatures, dust mites are a major cause of allergic symptoms in the home. More correctly, it's their feces and dead body parts that cause allergic reactions — and their food source is us! Dust mites feed on discarded skin flakes, making bedding and bedrooms prime dust-mite real estate.
Over the years, they'll multiply inside mattresses to the point where it's estimated that 50 percent of the weight of a 10-year-old mattress is caused by dust mites and their leavings. If family members wake each morning with puffy eyes and sneezing noses, it's time to control allergens in the bedroom. Fight back against dust mites, dander, dust and pollen with these tips:
Cover mattresses. Use vinyl covers designed to form a barrier between mites and the mattress.
Replace down products. Pillows, comforters and other items should be made from synthetic fibers. Encase pillows in vinyl covers for added protection.
Clean well and often. Regular cleaning is the best defense against allergens and dust mites.
Send Duff to other quarters. Bed down household pets in an area outside the bedroom if allergies are a problem. Pet dander is an allergen for many, and pets shed fur and skin cells, too, promoting dust mite populations. Banish Duff from the bedroom at night, and make it up to him with extra walkies in the morning — after a good night's sleep.
Keep humidity levels low. Dust mites die back when there's insufficient moisture in the air. In humid climates, use a portable or whole-house dehumidifier to reduce in-house humidity levels to between 30 percent and 50 percent.
Keep cool. Mites thrive in warm weather, so keep household temperatures on the low side in the bedroom.
Fight back with spring cleaning. Because mites grow best in warm, humid weather, take advantage of early spring to clean the house. Vacuuming and dusting will remove the mites who've wintered over before they can run riot in spring.
Kiss Teddy goodbye. Stuffed toys are a comfort for children of all ages, but harbor dust mites just as mattresses do. Replace the teddy bear with a plastic model for a healthier night's sleep.
Wash bedding often, in hot water. Temperatures of 130ºF (54ºC) are required to kill mites; mites can survive cold water washing. Wash sheets and pillowcases weekly, and give pillows, comforters and blankets a trip to the washer every month to six weeks.
Pitch the houseplants. They are lovely to look at, but plants bring pollen, insects, dust and microbes into the bedroom. For best rest, restrict them to other rooms.
Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer
Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited
Use these tips to care for your furniture and it'll look its best for years to come.