Dust mites live and breed in mattresses, pillows, carpets and furniture, making the bedroom one of the most allergenic rooms in the house. This is your sleep sanctuary, and the thought of little intruders occupying your personal space is nothing short of cringe-worthy.
Rest easy with these 10 ways to keep your bedroom clean and healthy from Robin Wilson, a designer who specializes in creating healthy homes, author of Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle and an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
1. Manage floor dust Floors collect more dust than any other surface in a room, and carpets and rugs hold on to that dust, no matter how frequently you vacuum. The best solution for flooring is hardwood or tile. Of course, you must vacuum and mop it regularly to keep it clean.
2. Break the budget on your mattress The cheaper the mattress, the more chemicals inside—and if you think about the fact that your face lies next to the mattress for many long hours every night, it is worth it to spend a bit more to get the best quality mattress you can afford. The least toxic mattresses are made with sustainable, natural materials such as cotton and natural latex.
3. Hypoallergenic pillows are a must Pillows are a breeding ground for dust mites, so always use hypoallergenic pillows and make sure you follow the rule of threes: Wash the zippered cover every three weeks, wash the pillow every three months and replace pillows every three years.
4. Use hypoallergenic covers for mattresses Mattress pads allow you to utilize the protection of a cover that can be washed, and to extend the life of the mattress. Imagine not having a mattress pad, and the dust mites keep building up in the actual mattress—which would mean that only one year after purchase, the mattress will weigh more than when you bought it. Because many people keep a mattress for up to ten years, that would mean your bedroom could become a “wheezing and sneezing” chamber and not a relaxing sanctuary.
5. Choose fabrics you can live with and love In bedrooms, it is more important than in any other room in the house to use eco-friendly, allergy-friendly bedding and fabrics. The best options are cotton, silk, corn fiber, bamboo fiber and soy fiber made without formaldehyde.
6. Know what’s in your bedroom furniture Avoid bargain-basement or discount furniture, because it is likely to contain formaldehyde adhesives that will off-gas into the room and create a toxic load that could affect your health. Buy from vendors that use eco-friendly and sustainable practices for harvesting their wood, and who use nontoxic glues and low- to no-VOC paints and stains.
7. Keep window treatment simple “Dust collectors” is a good phrase to use for heavy draperies or curtains that are cleaned infrequently. For a modern space, consider side panel curtains made of linen or cotton, offset by mechanized window shades that are recessed into a soffit for a completely clean look. A more traditional space might look better with shutters, blinds, or pulldown shades made of natural materials. Overall, the key is simplicity and ease of washing.
8. What’s on your walls? Use low to no VOC paints when painting the walls. The paint is a bit thicker than a standard paint, which means you only need one coat. Second, the paint typically has a built-in primer so you have less labor when painting. And finally, one hour after painting, there is no paint smell because the paint self-seals to limit release of toxins into the air.
9. Avoid the clutter Pollen, mold, dust, and other allergens settle on knickknacks and other items. Sure, you can clean them, but it is much easier when bedroom surfaces are relatively clear of stuff. To keep dust buildup to a minimum, keep belongings in covered boxes, bins, drawers, cabinets, and bookcases with doors. Better yet, store them outside of the bedroom. Not only do they collect dust, but also books—especially older ones—can be a source for growth of mold spores.
10. Avoid bed bugs When you return home from a trip, wash everything immediately and do not store your luggage in your bedroom closet—if necessary, keep luggage in the garage, patio/deck, or a storage space for a week. Since bedbugs are parasites that feed on blood, they love to spend time in warm, humid places near humans. If you deprive them of their food sources, then they may not survive to migrate to your bed.