Is your pillow making you ill? We reveal how to prevent germs spreading at home – The Sun

THERE is nothing like the feeling of slipping between fresh sheets. But what if your bed isn’t so clean after all?

While we might diligently stick our sheets in the machine once a week, one in five of us are sleeping on pillows so filthy that a quarter of their weight is made up of dead skin cells and dust mites, a recent Silentnight survey revealed.

Even worse, the research found a fifth of us have not washed our pillows in five years. These slovenly habits are enough to turn your stomach — and could make you ill, too.

“Lots of people will suffer with coughs and runny noses and they don’t know it’s caused by dust mites,” explains Dr Lisa Ackerley, aka The Hygiene Doctor.

“Sometimes, mites can even trigger serious conditions like asthma and eczema”.

Here, Lisa reveals how often we should all be washing household items such as duvets and cushions — and why it’s important.


CLEAN: Six months to a year.

Many pillows are made up of dead skin cells and dust mites, which isn’t a nice thought to go to sleep on.

If you want to wash your pillows, stick them in the machine every six months to a year.

But you may find it easier to invest in a protector which will cover your pillow and is easier to wash regularly.


CLEAN: Twice a year.

I own different duvets for summer and winter so when I swap them around, I send them off to the launderette to be professionally cleaned.

The main problems with dirty duvets is dust mites. They munch on our dead skin and then poo, and this is what can trigger allergies.


CLEAN: Every month.

Regularly vacuuming a mattress can help get rid of dust mites.

Give it a good Hoover and flip it every month or so. Clean under and around the edge of the bed, too.

Use a good-quality protector to help keep the mattress clean and wash at 60C-plus every three months or when it looks dirty.

Dressing gowns

CLEAN: Weekly.

How often you need to clean your dressing gown will depend on how often you use it and what you wear underneath.

If you wear pyjamas, it won’t get as dirty. If you don’t wear as much underneath and you wear it every day, then you should clean it every week, ideally at 60C.


CLEAN: Weekly.

A pair of warm, well-used slippers are the perfect place for germs to breed.

If they can go in the wash, great. If they can’t, a good tip is to use a squirt of Dettol disinfectant spray.

It’s very good at getting rid of odours and should kill germs that cause infections such as athlete’s foot.

Shower curtains

CLEAN: Weekly.

It’s a good idea to have two shower curtains and rotate them, cleaning one each week to prevent mould.

If you dry it after use it is less likely to get mouldy.

Once mould has set it, it’s quite hard to get of and the curtain is ruined. Regular washing is key.

Washing-up sponge

CLEAN: Daily.

Sponges and dishcloths need washing and disinfecting daily. I put mine in the dishwasher or you can put them in the washing machine at 60C or higher.

Another option is to boil them in hot water with some laundry powder, as granny used to.

It’s also important to make sure they are dried properly afterwards.

Bath towels

CLEAN: Every 2-3 days.

Towels have been found to harbour all sorts of bacteria, including E.coli and coliforms.

When they are damp, they provide the perfect breeding ground for bugs.

Most people stick to their own bath towel so you can get away with washing them every two to three days, at 60C or higher.

Tea towels

CLEAN: Daily.

People use tea towels for all sorts of things, not just drying dishes.

If you are using them to touch something you eat from, you need to make sure they are clean so they should be changed daily and washed at a minimum of 60C.

If you have seven, do one load at the end of the week so you’re not putting your machine on for one tea towel each day.

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