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Making your bed might have been one of the chores your parents used to insist on, but science has given us the perfect excuse not to straighten the sheets the minute you leave them.
According to The Sleep Council, the average adult loses 285ml of fluid each night. What this means is that when you make your bed each morning, you are trapping in all of that moisture to fester during the day – ready to be slept on again in the evening. Grim.
"Microbes such as bacteria, fungi and parasites like humidity and grow faster in moist environments leading to bad odours and the risk of infections (skin: dermatitis, acne, boils; respiratory) or allergies," explains Dr Georgios Efthimiou, lecturer in microbiology at University of Hull.
He adds that bed mites are also more likely to colonise a wet surface than a dry one. Double grim.
In fact it is recommended that after a good night’s sleep, particularly when the temperature is higher during summer, that you pull back the bed linen to give the mattress the chance to breathe and for moisture to evaporate.
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This is because moisture can get trapped between the mattress and the linen causing discolouration and potentially odours.
"If you suspect that your sheets are moist in the morning due to overnight sweating, it is better not to make the bed straight away and let the sheets dry first," Dr Efthimiou continues.
"If the weather is good, you can dry them by exposure to the sunlight for 1-2 hours. Good room aeration by opening the windows helps too.
"In addition, avoid covering the moist sheets with the duvet or blanket, as this will trap the moisture under the covers, allowing faster microbial growth during the day."
Doing this will also ensure your mattress lasts longer, so it’s a win-win and gives you the perfect excuse to ignore any potential bed-making nagging.
The bed hygiene lessons don't end there however as the experts at And So To Bed have put together some other tips on keeping your sleep environment germ and bug-free.
Should you flip your mattress and if so, how often?
Turns out whether you need to flip your mattress or not is dependent on the type of mattress you have.
Double-sided mattresses can be flipped and should come with the instruction to turn over regularly. For the first three months of having your mattress, it is recommended that you turn it over once a week. After that, turn it over just once a month. This will ensure that the filling is evenly placed and stop dips from forming.
Single sided mattresses (such as those with memory foam on top) can not be flipped but should still be rotated 180 degrees. Like with the double-sided mattress, for the first three months it is recommended that you rotate your mattress from head to toe once a week. After that, rotate it just once a month.
For natural fibre mattresses, it is recommended that you turn your mattress over twice a week for the first three months and once a season after that. This is to firstly encourage natural and even settlement of the mattress fillings and subsequently to extend its life.
How to clean a mattress
Cleaning a mattress is no easy feat, and in really grim cases is probably best left to a professional. However there are some smaller mattress cleaning tips that we can all attempt.
- Don’t use a vacuum: it seems tempting to vacuum dust and fluff from your mattress but the powerful suction of a vacuum cleaner can cause the filling to become dislodged which can lead to bumps and dips. Instead use a soft brush to remove the debris onto the floor, which can then be vacuumed.
- Blot don’t scrub: stains should be immediately tackled by blotting with a clean cloth. If your mattress is filled with natural fibres this should be a dry cloth, as ‘wet cleaning’ could damage the upholstery. Other mattresses may be able to withstand warm soapy water on a wrung out clean cloth, but always check the manufacturer's advice before cleaning. Hacks such as bicarbonate of soda and various harsh chemicals are not recommended.
- Regularly wash your bedding and mattress protector: wash your bed linen every one to two weeks and your mattress protector once a month. Regularly cleaning these will stop any dirt seeping through the mattress, keeping it cleaner for longer. In the summer, you may have to clean your linen and protector more regularly due to sweat.
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Both Aggie Mackenzie and Bed Advice UK recommend using upholstery shampoo for spot treating mattress stains. But caution that you should first check whether your mattress' care label says it is OK to do so. It is wise to dilute the shampoo in warm water and avoid getting the mattress overly wet when applying.
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Bed Advice UK also suggests wiping with a few drops of antiseptic, such as Milton Sterilising Fluid.
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This mattress cleaner and deodoriser uses pro-biotic bacteria to clean smells and stains from your bedding. The pro-biotic bacteria digest sweat and urine and convert them into water and co2. It can also work to help clean baby sick. Spray over the stain and leave to dry for two to four hours before making the bed.
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A simple solution to avoiding unpleasant odours, stains and dust on your mattress is to use a mattress protector, which is easy to strip off and wash with your other bedding. This one is delivered in a recycled and recyclable box and is made from ethically sourced organic bamboo, which is grown pesticide-free.