The shocking reasons your duvet could be making you ill

Do you have any idea what you’re sleeping with? Did you know that your duvet and pillows could be giving you sleep problems, allergies, bites and many other conditions?

So what are the problems and what can you do about them? Look no further, because we’ve come up with 7 reasons why your duvet and pillows could be making you ill…

1. Bedbugs

Recent studies have shown that bedbugs are increasing all over the world. Bedbugs are tiny insects that often live in bedding and suck blood. They can’t fly, but are good at nesting away in luggage and clothing, meaning you can pick them up while staying away from your house and bring them home with you.

Signs of bedbugs include having spots of blood on your duvet and an unpleasant almond smell. Unfortunately, if you do have bed bugs your house will need to be treated with insecticide by a pest control company.

2. We don’t wash them enough

This means house dust mites, pet allergens, skin scales, eggs, fungal spores, pollen and stains (including bodily fluids) build up. A study carried out at the University of Worcester’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit revealed that 70% of duvet owners admit not washing their duvet for a staggering 10 years.

3. Clean bed linen

We put clean duvet covers and pillow cases over them, stopping things getting out. ‘Washing the bedlinen at 60 degrees is not enough,’ says Professor Emberlin who headed the research. ‘Before you put duvet covers and pillow cases back on, you should pump up your pillow and shake out your duvet. This will release all their contaminants into the air. Only then should you slip them into your nice clean linen.’

4. Stains and bacteria

‘New stains, such as sweat, provide an excellent base for bacteria to grow on,’ says Professor Emberlin. ‘Some bacteria can infect eczema lesions making them much worse. They can also cause conjunctivitis.’

5. Your pets

Cat and dog allergens are in your duvet, even if you’re not a dog or cat owner. 50% of the duvets tested had measurable or high amounts of cat allergen, even though only 10% of their owners owned a cat. ‘Cat allergen hangs around for years,’ says Professor Emberlin. ‘It’s very light and sticky and travels on clothes to places where no cat has been.’

6. You are creating new allergies

‘If the exposure to these contaminants is high enough, you could sensitise yourself to the allergens in your duvet,’ says Professor Emberlin. ‘This means that if you are genetically predisposed you might develop allergies.’

7. You’re not worried about it

You don’t think keeping your duvet clean makes that much difference. ‘We were amazed at the levels of allergens and contaminants in our analyses,’ says Professor Emberlin. ‘In some cases they were at the point where they could cause symptoms of serious allergies and infection.’

What you can do

  • Washable duvets need to be cleaned at 40 degrees at least every 6 months for an adult’s and every three months for a child’s. This lowers bacteria by 55% and house dust mites, house dust mite allergen and cat allergen to zero.
  • Washable pillows should be washed once every two months because they’re in close proximity to the nose and eyes.
  • So, do you clean your bedding and bed linen often enough? Let us know what you think about the recommendations in the comment section below.