Too many bed partners isn’t always a good thing

If ‘lived-in’ sheets make you feel snug and comfortable, you should know this.

Too many bed partners isn’t always a good thing

My wife loves sleeping between clean sheets. Me? Not so much.

Clean sheets are crisp, like a new shirt. I hate wearing new shirts and will always wash them three or four times before I wear them.

By extension, I like sheets that are soft and snuggly and, for me, that comes only after sheets have been on our bed for a week or two. And if it’s any longer, I won’t complain.

This was until recently.

My wife and I were discussing my lack of distinction when it came to cleaning the house, and so she showed me a photo. It was a bed bug, and it’s a most unsavoury little thing.

Did you know that they are crawling over your body at night, sucking your blood?

Bedbugs aren’t attracted to dirty sheets or repelled by clean ones. They seek out places that are warm and often these are our beds. Now, I know bed bugs are not all that common in Australia, but she was making a point. And they are, according to news reports, becoming increasingly common here.

I didn’t complain when she next suggested it was time to wash our bedding.

Some time later, when my paranoia had worn off and the sheets were just getting snuggly again, she showed me a photo of a dust mite. These little things are different to bed bugs. They don’t live off our blood, but instead dine on the millions and millions of skin flakes we shed daily, especially in bed.

My paranoia returned.

As I stripped the bed, she advised me: “Make sure you wash them in water as hot as the label says.”

I did.

“And when you finish, you could iron the sheets.”

I didn’t.

Ironing sheets is, for me, as futile as ironing jocks, handkerchiefs and T-shirts, and if you ever see me doing it you’ve got my permission to have me committed.

“Do you know you could have up to 10 million dust mites in your bed now?” she asked.

“Do you know that once you’ve had a pillow for two years, up to 10 per cent of its weight could be comprised of dead dust mites and their faecal matter?”

“You need to lighten your night time reading,” I replied. “Besides, dryers aren’t environmentally friendly.

“Hang them out,” she said. “Dust mites don’t like sunlight.”

She had an answer for everything

My only comeback was to cite a recent survey out of the US that said most people go about 25 days between washing bed linen.

I conducted my own family survey and 25 days was about normal, although all the females in my family said they wished they had the energy to insist on it more often.

I also have a sibling who admits to letting the family dog sleep on her bed at night. This goes beyond dust mites and bed bugs and introduces ringworm, a fungal infection that looks bad, is often itchy and is extremely contagious.

So, with dust mites, bed bugs, ringworm, pets and people, beds can get rather crowded. It doesn’t stop there.

Did you know that laboratory tests have found that a pillowcase unwashed for a week can hold 17,000 times more colonies of bacteria than a toilet seat?

Dirty pillowcases can carry flu germs and assorted substances that feed acne.

It was becoming clear that arguments supporting clean bedding vastly outweighed my penchant for dirty sheets, but I did have one minor victory.

Research suggested that it was not a good idea to make the bed every morning, so that it looked clean and tidy during the day when the only thing likely to see it was the family cat looking for somewhere to sleep.

No, you’re better off throwing everything off the bed and letting sheets and blankets get some air and dry out from a night of you sweating.

To be honest, this was the only supporting research I could find for myself.

My wife even reminded me of the vacuum cleaner salesman who gave us a demonstration years ago by vacuuming our mattress and then showing us how much gunk he’d sucked up. It was so staggering I dismissed it immediately as some marketing trick. 

But it isn’t. We share our bed with unmentionable things, wives aside, and I for one am changing my ways.

Do you have a penchant for clean sheets? Or for more ‘lived-in’ sheets? Did you know you were sharing your bed with so many critters?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    yellownanna
    21st Jan 2020
    10:05am
    Oh dear! Can I please go back to before I read this article?
    Bushbaby
    21st Jan 2020
    7:50pm
    Ditto!
    PlanB
    21st Jan 2020
    10:40am
    LOVE clean and ironed sheets and pillow slips --
    Bundabergian
    21st Jan 2020
    10:52am
    I don't iron anything. We have an iron and if one of us has something important on that needs smart clothes we might iron a shirt, but not when we live in T shirts and shorts.
    I do however love clean sheets and change ours roughly once a week. I brought some ancient heavy linen sheets back from France and they are perfect in our tropical climate.
    heyyybob
    21st Jan 2020
    10:53am
    Jeez. I thought I was slack by only washing our bedding once a week :O I agree with leaving the bed unmade for the day regularly, to 'air it'. But, you tell my wife that. We quite often end up fighting and rolling about on the bed 'discussing' making it up.....but that is another story ;)
    Muttonbird
    21st Jan 2020
    10:54am
    I keep reading that we're becoming too paranoid about bugs, and that this can cause problems like allergies in children etc. Depends which bugs, and what stage of our development I suppose.
    PlanB
    21st Jan 2020
    10:58am
    I have no problem leaving my bed unmade -- it gets changed AND made once a week -- I am a very calm sleeper and I could sleep in a bed for months I am sure and never muck it up at all, I have to sleep on my back and am unable to sleep or turn on my sides at all --
    (due to pain -- so that why I don't muck up my bed
    Neil
    21st Jan 2020
    11:18am
    Sheets changed every week . Nothing worse than a bed not made every day . Just plain lazy if you don,t .
    sandyfaye
    21st Jan 2020
    12:07pm
    I mislaid my iron for 4 years.
    Sheets? About once a fortnight.
    Sundays
    21st Jan 2020
    3:08pm
    Clearly, this man doesn’t live in the Queensland heat! How hard is it to change sheets and make a bed? Weekly for us, but no ironing.
    Mariner
    21st Jan 2020
    4:09pm
    Weekly here too, not in Qld but close enough. Hot days every 5 days. When staying at apartments they change them every 5 days as well and yes, Sundays, definitely no ironing.
    Retiring Well
    21st Jan 2020
    3:36pm
    Did she tell you your face is also crawling with millions of face mites too?
    turtle
    21st Jan 2020
    3:52pm
    I have always washed the sheets once a week, I have been on my own for awhile now, and thought instead of washing every week couldn't I move over to the other side and get another week out of the sheets, Just a thought.
    Jim
    21st Jan 2020
    4:16pm
    Sheets once a week, same for pillow cases, change pillows about every two years, vacuum the mattress 3-4 times a year and turn it over at the same time, we have a mattress protector and sheepskin under blanket both of which don’t get washed as often, seen the pictures of bed bugs and dust mites, they don’t look pretty, but neither do I first thing, I think you will find bugs everywhere, including on the food we eat especially on raw food.
    mumwa
    21st Jan 2020
    4:28pm
    Then you got to "live" in a sterile bubble ! because the outside world is full of all kinds of bugs ... and even so you wont be bugfree because your/our own body 's got its own !!!
    musicveg
    21st Jan 2020
    7:23pm
    I put my pillow in the sun of the window every day and turn my doona over so it gets aired too. Dust mites do not like the sun.
    Rusty
    22nd Jan 2020
    9:02am
    Turtle I live on my own also, I sleep on one side one week, then on the other side the next week before washing sheets. I hang sheets and pillow cases out on a clothesline for at least a day - now theres a novel idea (no dryers for me!)! Sunlight and wind will get rid of any dust mites. Pillows regularly aired in sunshine also.
    Lookfar
    16th Feb 2020
    10:43pm
    what kills sheets?
    Washing machines.
    PlanB
    22nd Jan 2020
    1:01pm
    Yes all my washing is hung on the line never use the dryer --


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