Pillowcases Have Nearly 20,000 Times More Bacteria Than a Toilet Seat

Most people shower or wash their faces before going to bed, and some even change their pajamas on a daily basis. However, the cleanliness of bedsheets and pillowcases is often overlooked. However, studies have shown that after just one week of use, pillowcases harbor bacteria levels surpassing those found on a toilet seat by a staggering nearly 20,000 times.

To mitigate potential health risks, experts strongly advise developing a habit of regularly changing bed linens.

Approximately one-third of a person's lifetime is spent sleeping. Healthy adults require at least seven hours of sleep daily, while infants and adolescents need even more to support their growth and development. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (pdf), 73 percent of respondents reported that having comfortable bedsheets is important for getting a good night's sleep, and 68 percent stated that a clean bedroom contributes to better sleep. The survey indicated that clean bedding may contribute to improving one's quality of sleep.

However, our bedsheets may not be as clean as we imagine. In fact, they often serve as a breeding ground for dust mites and bacteria, making them "hygiene blind spots" in our homes.

In a study by American bedding company AmeriSleep, participants were instructed to abstain from washing their bedsheets for four weeks. The findings revealed that by the end of the testing period, the pillowcases harbored 39 times more bacteria than a pet bowl, whereas the bedsheets contained 5.4 times more bacteria than a toothbrush holder. Additionally, pillowcases left unwashed for a mere week had 17,442 times the number of bacteria as a toilet seat!

The study also found four main strains of bacteria present in bedding, which include gram-negative rods (41.45 percent), gram-positive rods (24.94 percent), bacilli (23.38 percent), and gram-positive cocci (10.23 percent).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most gram-negative bacteria are dangerous and can lead to antibiotic resistance. Bacillus, on the other hand, is a significant cause of food poisoning and infection.

A 2014 survey conducted by YouGov, a UK public opinion research organization, revealed that 33 percent of people wash their bedsheets once a week, while 14 percent wait at least a month before doing so.

In 2015, Yahoo surveyed the bedsheet-changing habits of 1,187 readers. The results showed that only 44 percent of women wash their bedsheets once a week. Thirty-one percent wash them twice a month, and 16 percent wash them once a month. Additionally, 32 percent of women stated they rarely change their pillows.

Every time we use our beds, we shed dead skin, along with dirt, sweat, or oils that build up on the surface of our skin throughout the day. Even if we wash our faces or shower before sleeping, residual traces of cosmetics and lotions used on our bodies can linger on the bed. Additionally, dust and allergens, including dust mites, can gradually accumulate over time and find their way into our bedsheets, pillows, and mattresses.

Dust mites are common microscopic arthropods that can be found in our homes. While they do not bite humans, they can cause skin rashes and irritation and potentially exacerbate allergy symptoms for many individuals. Dust mites rely on dead skin cells for survival and can reproduce in large numbers. Even if you are not allergic to dust mites, you would not want to share your bed with thousands of them.

In addition to dust mites, our beds harbor a variety of fungi. A study published in the journal Allergy revealed that feather and synthetic pillows used for 1.5 to 20 years may contain up to 16 types of fungi. The most common fungus found in pillows is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause aspergillosis, a disease that is a leading cause of death in leukemia and bone marrow transplant patients. Moreover, fungi can exacerbate asthma symptoms in adults.

The accumulation of bacteria, oils, dirt, sweat, and allergens on dirty bedding can affect human health, leading to skin breakouts, allergies, asthma, and even fungal infections. According to data from the Cleveland Clinic, here are several common health effects caused by dirty bedding:
  1. Asthma and allergy symptoms: Dust mites in bedding can exacerbate allergies and asthma symptoms.

  2. Rash and eczema symptoms: Bacteria in dead skin cells can increase the risk of developing a rash. Eczema, one of the most common types of skin rashes, is caused by a combination of dry skin and overactive bacterial colonies on the skin. Additionally, dust mites can also cause skin rashes.
  3. Acne and folliculitis: Bacteria can also cause folliculitis, an infection that can sometimes be painful and results in itchy skin and acne-like bumps.
  4. Fungal and parasitic infections: Pets may carry fungal organisms and parasites, such as ringworm and scabies, which can then be transmitted to bedding and human skin.

The National Sleep Foundation emphasizes the importance of keeping your bedding clean for your health and sleep quality. It is recommended to change your sheets and pillowcases weekly. If you have pets that sleep on your bed, changing bedding every three to four days is advisable.

The Cleveland Clinic also recommends more frequent changes in bedding for specific situations. For instance, if you live in a very hot climate, experience excessive sweating during sleep (such as hot flashes), are recovering from an illness or infection, have allergies or asthma, or prefer sleeping naked, changing bedding more frequently is advisable.

Blankets, pillows, and mattresses do not need to be washed as often as bedsheets and pillowcases, but they can still accumulate bacteria, allergens, and dirt over time.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends cleaning your comforter and blankets every two to three months, pillows every four to six months, and mattresses every six months or so. Cleaning helps extend the lifespan of mattresses and bedding while improving sleep quality and overall health.

Reposted from: https://www.theepochtimes.com/health/pillowcases-have-nearly-20000-times-more-bacteria-than-a-toilet-seat-4-major-hazards-of-infrequent-washing-5310384


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