If your mattress is over 8 years old, you’re likely to be sharing it with up to 10 million little dust mites. Their name may lead you to believe they’re harmless, after all how’s a bit of dust going to severely affect your health? That’s where you’re wrong..
What are dust mites?
Dust mites, although not parasitic (and preferring to feed on our dead skin), can contribute to the general household dust, which is a trigger for many asthma sufferers and allergies. It’s not the 8-legged arachnid itself that causes the reaction, but rather their faecal matter . Some estimates claim that around 10% of a 2 year old pillow is made up of dust mites and their droppings. Now that’s enough to make your skin crawl.
Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate dust mites, you can reduce their numbers. Regular cleaning of your mattress, carpet and other upholstery will remove some of their food, creating a less favourable environment for them to make a home. Dust mites also favour humid conditions as they do not drink water but rely on the moisture in the air. If your bedroom is particularly humid it may be worth using a dehumidifier to deter the mites.
What else is in there?
It’s not only dust mites who like to share our beds. Bed bugs (Cimex Lectularius) are small, nocturnal parasites who feed on human blood, resulting in often itchy bites on our skin. Bed bugs are somewhat less common than they were in Centuries gone by, but they do still exist, and are constantly on the hunt for food.
A bed bug is a reddish or brown colour, with a flat, oval body. An adult may grow up to 7mm, so unlike dust mites, they are visible to the naked eye. Appropriately named ‘bed bugs’ they are mainly active during the night and so feed on humans whilst they are sleeping.
Adult bed bug after feeding.
Bed bugs can be easily transported to new locations. Most commonly, they hitchhike on peoples clothes or luggage from hotels, holiday resorts, theatres, cinemas, apartment buildings and cabins. Although they usually feed every five to ten days, the pests are highly resilient and are capable of living for over a year without a single feed. So even if you’re not using the mattress, there could be bed bugs lurking inside.
Their bites are not usually painful, but they can become extremely itchy and leave red spots on the skin, which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to know that bed bugs don’t just live in your mattress. They find hiding places in any small crevice from the bedside table to the headboard or even cracks in the wall.
Spotting bed bugs
As bed bugs are nocturnal they will probably only come out during the night - when you are sleeping - which makes it difficult to confirm whether or not they are present. If you wake up with red spots or itchy areas on your skin, there’s a chance you’ve been bitten. Other indicators include dark spots on the bedding (bed bug excrement), tiny eggs and shells- although difficult to see, skin that has been shed by a bed bug, reddish stains on bedding that are a result of the bugs being squashed into the mattress.
If you think you have a case of bed bugs you should contact pest control and get it checked as soon as possible.
Protect your mattress
Whilst you can never completely rid your home of mites and other pests, you can take action to reduce the amount of them sleeping in your bed with you.
The foam we use in Tweak Slumber Mattresses is reflex foam. This is dust mite resistant, hypoallergenic and has anti-bacterial properties. What’s more, the foam tablets, Viscoool comfort layer, and the plush fabric cover can all be completely removed and machine washed, so you can keep your mattress as clean as possible without working up too much of a sweat.