July 2020

Dust mites, mould & mattresses: How to fix

Many mattress brands will advertise ‘anti-dust mite’ beds as a benefit of their mattresses. Memory foam or latex mattress are sometimes sold as anti-allergen as dust-mites can’t readily pass through the material as it has a solid structure. There are as always many flaws in this assumption and as expected we want to provide the alternative angle towards this myth! Le'ts look closer at how to reduce dust mites in your mattress.

Updated 2020: If you’re concerned about dust mites and mould in your mattress then this article will help to dispel some of the myths. The two main contenders that threaten a healthy bedroom are dust mites and mould in the bedroom. If you’re wanting to ensure your bedroom is a haven for peace and well being we have some helpful mattress tips for you.

Bed cleanliness can help reduce dust mites

Keeping your bedroom clean and healthy is a great step to ensuring a perfect nights sleep. Alongside choosing the right mattress. Let’s have a look at how you can prevent dust mites, mould and allergies ruining a good night sleep.

Advice on dust mites in the bedroom

What is a dust mite?

The dust mite is  0.25–0.3 millimetre in length and has 8 legs. Male dust mites live for 10-19 days whilst the female can live up to 70 days and lays 60-100 eggs during her final 5 weeks of life. It’s the faecal particles and dead exoskeletons that are the subject of debate. They depend on water and moisture to survive so any material that can retain moisture will provide an environment for dust mites to live in.

Dust mites live in fabrics and materials where dead skin, moisture and heat are present. So an unloved and uncared for mattress in the bedroom is a prime breeding ground for dust mites. Dust mites can cause all sorts of allergic reactions which we discuss below. If you want to know which mattresses are best to reduce dust mites then we need to understand a bit more about allergies in the bedroom.

Which mattresses are allergy-free?

There are many blog posts about allergy-free mattresses and a lot of fake advice out there. Allergies are caused when the body reacts to a substance it finds a threat to your immune system and with mattresses, this can be a type of fibre, material or debris ie dust mite waste.

The mattress industry lists any synthetic material as ‘anti-allergen’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ as it doesn’t contain any organic matter like a natural fibre. However, you need to take care as this only applies to synthetic material in a lab. As soon as you get it home, add bedding and cover it the hypoallergenic properties are then gone as you mix in sweat, dead skin, dust and other particles!

A mattress on a divan base
Mattresses made from synthetic man-made fibres can help reduce dust mites but they will never eliminate them. A regular thorough cleaning routine is far more effective.

Examples of Allergy-Free mattress Material

  • Polyester
  • White fibre (synthetic)
  • Memory foam (though care needs to be taken due to its heat retentive properties causing night sweats)

Mattress brands have marketed that memory foam is anti-allergen, we would argue that whilst there is some truth with this (ie when it’s held in a sterile lab) it is not just the mattress that dust mites take up residence, but bedding, sheets and even clothes. So all you are doing is minimising the dust mites in your mattress. Given the figures that 100-500 can live in a 1gm of dust means you may have already established you are in a losing battle!!

You’re far better with a thorough and regular mattress cleaning routine instead of opting for low quality chemically made foams. Which means you can choose more natural fibre mattresses and get a far better nights sleep!

Typical Allergies to Dust Mites

  • Itchiness
  • Sneezing
  • Inflamed or infected eczema skin
  • Watering/reddening of the eye(s)
  • Sneezing repeatedly and or frequent sneezing.

What can I do to stop dust mites

Quite simply you can’t ever fully remove dust mites. The only way to reduce dust mites in the bedroom is following the next three steps.

  • One top tip is to wash your bedding weekly on a 60-degree wash
  • To tumble dry your bedding which will kill the dust mites
  • Use some specialist anti-dust mite covers or fitted mattress covers which helps limit them to the top surface of the mattress.

The drawback is that these are only as effective as the routine you use to keep them clean. As you can imagine tumble drying your bedding and sheets every day, to try and keep numbers to a minimum is highly troublesome. Carpets act as a breeding ground and fabric sofas so unless you put down wooden or laminate floors and sit on hard wooden chairs the chances are you’re going to come into contact with them at some point!

Clothes pegs on a line
Regular and rigorous washing of bed linen and bedroom hygiene are the best ways to remove dust mites

Our only recommendation is to have a robust mattress cleaning regime, seek medical help if the allergens are becoming troublesome and to do the best you can with it. For most people, they won’t even notice a dust mite problem. Again use your judgement to work out whether the anti-allergen is really a selling point for you or just another gimmick!

Regular ventilation and turning of your mattress can help keep your bedroom fresh
Regular ventilation and turning of your mattress can help keep your bedroom fresh
A hot wash of your bedding on a weekly basis can help reduce dust mites
A hot wash of your bedding on a weekly basis can help reduce dust mites

Mouldy Mattress Prevention

When you think of mattresses probably one of the last things to enter your mind is that of mould (also commonly spelt mold) and mildew. Yet there is an alarming number of people online reporting their mattresses are turning mouldy. This is usually one-sided memory foam or boxed mattress models. Let’s see where mould is usually found to help explain how to avoid a mouldy mattress.

Mould in the home can usually be found in damp, dark or steamy areas e.g. bathroom or kitchen, cluttered storage areas, recently flooded areas, basement areas, plumbing spaces, areas with poor ventilation and outdoors in humid environments” Wikipedia.

If you have a mouldy mattress then the chances are its been mattress maintenance that caused the mould. Mould can only exist where there are humidity, dust and warmth in the bedroom. All things which you can easily avoid with mattress care.

Stack of cheap thin mattresses

Mould thrives on organic matter and breaks it down leading to mould growing and spreading which you’ve guessed it is usually down to dust and dead skin. Also if there is a high level of humidity and other organic compounds found then mould can appear on your mattress. This combination would cause any piece of furniture to develop mould and mildew.

How can I prevent a mouldy mattress?

We recommend that you rotate your mattress monthly not only to ensure even settlement but to ensure there is adequate airflow around the mattress. Also ensuring that damp clothes/towels are not dried in the bedroom or near the bed will help. Leaving a window open slightly to help air circulate is also recommended with any bed if there is humidity in the room. General hygiene, cleaning up spills and keeping bed linen clean and dry will also help prevent this. Please read our Maintenance guide here.

  • Ensure adequate airflow in your bedroom
  • Avoid drying clothes in the bedroom
  • Clean up spills ASAP on mattresses & beds
  • Pull your covers back for an hour when you get out of bed to help it air

Trying to eradicate dust mites is, in reality, a losing battle. What will help reduce the lifecycle and impacts of dust mites are a robust cleaning regime. Clean covers replaced frequently and mattress maintenance will help reduce any impacts. The same can be said for mouldy mattresses, ensuring that rooms are not humid and have good ventilation should help keep your mattress in perfect shape. If you need more advice please give us a call on 0161 437 4419.

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