Dust Mites Call Your Pillow Home, Too: When To Replace Your Pillow To Avoid Bacteria, Fungi, And Mold

When was the last time you thought about how clean or dirty your pillow was? If you are like most of us the answer to both questions is ” not often”

The sole purpose of a pillow is to provide you with comfort and neck support while you rest. We all know a good pillow is essential to a good night’s sleep, nap, or long plane ride. However despite how comfortable and deceivingly clean your pillow might be, it can be  home to thousands, if not millions, of dust mites and debris.

How often should you get new pillows?

That’s a good question and one many of us tend to overlook. We have a habit of becoming attached to our pillows, so the prospect of tossing an old one and replacing it can be difficult.

While the life span of a pillow is a debated topic, the average replacement time has been suggested to be around two years. However, Robert Oexman, DC, director of the Sleep to Live Institute says pillows should probably be replaced every six months. “People talk about how nasty a mattress gets,” said Oexman, but pillows are more frequently forgotten. Read complete article

The good news is, dust mites don’t spread any kind of disease, but they do pose allergy and asthmatic risks. Roughly 20 percent of people have allergies, and of those who do, around two-thirds may be allergic to the types of dust mites found indoors, The Huffington Post reported. To help reduce your allergic symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes, use an airtight cover for your mattress and pillows.

If You Feel It Bite It Is Not A Dust Mite

Dust mites do not bite you. You can not feel them crawling on you. House dust mites live off your dead skin and can cause allergic reactions.

The allergic symptoms are caused by inhaling the microscopic fecal matter and shed skins. Symptoms of dust mite allergy include but are not limited to respiratory such as sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, cough, difficulty breathing, and asthma. In addition, skin symptoms such as eczema and dermatitis can result. Rashes and hives are rarely a symptom of dust mite allergy.

Now there several kinds of biting mites. Chiggers are probably the most common and annoying. Chiggers are mite larvae that are ubiquitous outdoors except in arid regions; they bite, feed in the skin, then fall off.

Common mite species that bite and burrow into the skin include Sarcoptes scabiei , which causes scabies , and Demodex mites, which cause a scabies-like dermatitis.

Bird mites may bite people who handle live poultry or pet birds or who have birds’ nests on their homes.

Rodent mites from cats, dogs (especially puppies), and rabbits may bite people.

Swine mange mites ( S. scabiei var suis ) from pig farms or pet pigs may also bite humans.

The straw itch mite ( Pyemotes tritici ) is often associated with seeds, straw, hay, and other plant material; it is a parasite of soft-bodied insects that are or have been present in such materials. These mites often bite people who handle the infested items. Granary workers, people who handle grass seeds or grass hay, and people who make dried plant arrangements are most at risk.

If you want to you keep you bed free of dust mites you should cover it with special covers designed to stop dust mites. The Allergy Store has a good selection to choose from.

Products That Are Effective For Dust Mite Allergies

Been awhile since we have posted anything about dust mites or anything else for that matter.

The question came up the other day about products that were really effective for dust mite allergies. In particular they were talking about using those UV wands to kill dust mites on a mattress. They think they want to add a mattress cleaning service to thier company.

There are all sorts of products on the market that claim they can kill or control dust mites and the allergens they produce. Some work but most don’t. If you want to read about products that DO work please check out this article, Dust Mite Products That Really Work. Cheryl at the Allergy Store really does know here stuff.

Back to the UV question and mattress cleaning. First of all there is not a vacuum made that has enough suction to pull air all the way through a mattress or even half of it. Not going to happen.

UV does kill different types of bacteria but the contact time (how long the light shines on it) varies by what you are trying to kill. Just running a wand down a mattress is not going to cut it.

Now we have used the ADMS spray (see Cheryl’s article) on the mattress and it was effective. The key to using it or any other spray is making sure the mattress is dry before you put it back together. If it is not you can end up with a mold problem that will make dust mites look easy.

In the end I told  them they would be better off selling their customer dust mite proff bedding. Much more effective and they would have happier clients.



Ways to Control Allergens in Your Furniture

Allersearch Labs makes a great product,  ADMS Anti-Allergen  Spray, to help you get rid of allergens in most upholstered items.

For those who have allergies, you’ve probably received a list of things to do from your doctor in  order for your house to be allergen free.  Along with removing the carpets, you were probably told to remove all draperies, curtains, and upholstered furniture. In their place really should be hard surface blinds (either vertical or horizontal) and leather furniture as an alternative to fabric.

Great advice if you possibly could follow it.

A lot of people aren’t in a financial position to toss out the contents of their home and replace everything with new stuff. So you must have a strategy for managing the allergens you know are collecting on these surfaces.

The Allersearch Laboratories have come up with several great solutions to this issue. One, the ADMS Anti-Allergen Dust Mite Spray enable you to safely denature (or neutralize) the proteins that cause allergies. ADMS works on dust mites, pet dander, molds, grasses and pollens. These allergens collect in the fibers that comprise our draperies and upholstered furniture.

Now you can pay somebody to “clean” this stuff, but not only will they probably not be clean, nothing will have been done for the allergy causing proteins. Apply a light misting of the ADMS  spray on your favorite couch or chair, your draperies, the padded seats on your dining room chairs, your curtains and drapes. We even use it in the car before we take a long trip.

What the ADMS Anti-Allergen Spray does is to use a combination of non-toxic alkalis and acids to change the chemical structure of the allergy causing proteins. Once the amino acids that make up the protein have been altered, your body will no longer reacts to the allergen.

There is no need to saturate the pieces of furniture or drapes. More is not better! Just a light misting monthly will do the job. The manufacturer recommends that you vacuum when the surface dries, however I have personally found the greatest results by vacuuming first and then spraying.

Most surfaces dry in 15 minutes or so. It is completely safe for most water-safe fabrics. It is also not toxic to your pets or the people in the house.

Differences Between Mattress Covers and Allergy Mattress Covers

A traditional mattress cover protects and lengthens the lifespan of your mattress by keeping dirt and skin oils that can come through the sheets away from your mattress. The mattress cover is typically an inexpensive item that protects your investment in a mattress, which can be quite expensive.

Traditional mattress covers are composed of cotton, cotton blends or vinyl. People choose vinyl when they want to protect the mattress Allergy Coversfrom moisture. For example, you might choose vinyl for a toddler’s bed. Vinyl is not particularly comfortable to sleep on because of the noise it makes when you move or change positions. It’s also hotter to sleep on than other materials.

An allergy mattress cover provides the same protection for your mattress and also protects you from allergens that can collect in your mattress over time and from anything that is there from the beginning, when the mattress is new. It would be more accurate to call it an “anti-allergy” mattress cover.

These anti-allergy mattress covers are composed of cotton, polyester or a cotton/polyester blend. They are never made from vinyl.

The fibers of the anti-allergy covers are woven very tightly to create a barrier. The loose weave of the traditional cover would not serve as a barrier to protect against common household allergens.

The anti-allergy covers are available in different pore sizes. The term “pore” refers to the amount of space between the fibers in the weave of the fabric. The space is measured in microns. The smaller the pore size, the more allergens the cover can keep out of the air and away from you.

Allergens that are commonly found in mattresses, especially those that have been used for a while, include dust, dust mites, dust mite excretions, molds and animal dander. These items are too large to pass through the pores of the barrier fabric. If you have severe allergies, shop for an allergy mattress cover with the smallest pore size available. A pore size of 8 microns or less will provide the most protection from the common allergens.

The only disadvantage to the smallest pore size is that the cover will usually be made of all polyester. Polyester fibers are very strong and can withstand the tight weave necessary to create the strongest barrier with the smallest pore size. But all polyester mattress covers tend to have a slick feeling that may be uncomfortable.

Cotton/polyester blends are an alternative. The pore size may not be the smallest available but the material feels more like cotton. Cotton/polyester blends are long lasting and generally comfortable to sleep on.

Another alternative is all cotton. Cotton has a soft and cool feeling that many people prefer. The pore size will be larger, because cotton fibers are not as strong as polyester and cannot be woven as tightly. Cotton may not last as long as polyester. So, there are advantages and disadvantages to each material.

There is a process that some manufacturers use to provide an all-cotton, anti-allergy mattress cover with many of the advantages of polyester. The process involves using heat, steam and/or pressure to “shrink” the pore size. Manufacturers who use this process will say that their covers are “sanforized”.

Sanforized cotton covers will retain their pore size through multiple washings. The process of washing and drying degrades cotton fibers causing some fibers to break and generally leaving you with a larger pore size. The sanforizing process also helps to prevent shrinking. So, your cover should continue to fit your mattress as times goes by.

Anti-allergy mattress covers are available in fitted and zip-on styles. Similar to your fitted sheets, the fitted style includes elastic bands that hold the cover in place. The zip-on style covers the entire mattress and is held in place by a zipper. The zip-on style provides more protection but is impractical in some situations.

When you are ready to make up your bed, it is recommended that the only things on top of the anti-allergy mattress cover are your sheets and bedding. Any pads, down or memory foam toppers should go under the anti-allergy cover. Allergens can also collect inside those “add-ons”. If they are on top of the mattress cover, you are not protected from those allergens.

Your sheets and bedding should be washed at least once a week in warm water and dried in your dryer on an appropriate setting. You can use a low heat setting on the dryer to help ensure that your bedding does not shrink. Although you may be bothered a bit by static electricity, you may want to avoid the use of fabric softener dryer sheets. The fragrance and chemicals left on the sheets can also be allergens.

All in all, most people with allergies feel that a good mattress cover is a worthwhile investment. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to your overall health. It’s easier to get a good night’s sleep when your allergies are put to rest.