Avoid Pests – Don’t Make Your Bed!
By Chris Williams on October 22, 2015.
You’ve always hated making your bed. When you were small, mom made you do it. She implied that you would be a better person for having done so, you (and she) could take pride in your accomplishment. Maybe so, but mom didn’t know she was setting you up to spend your nights with pests.
Now some researchers say that failing to make your bed in the morning may keep you healthier and free of pests that occupy our beds like bed bugs and dust mites. Dust mites feed on shed human skin and are important causes of asthma. Anything that reduces their numbers is vital to an allergy sufferer. And bed bugs, well you know what they do. They suck our blood at night, right in our beds.
Dust Mites and Bed Bugs Like it Moist
Most pests that end up in our homes need moist conditions to survive long-term. When you share your bed with bed bugs or dust mites, they thrive on the warm, damp conditions provided by your body. Bed bugs hide most often right in the bed in crevices and seams in the mattress and box spring, not only because their blood source is right there but also because it’s moister than the surrounding room. Dust mites take in water from the atmosphere through small glands on their bodies and can’t survive in dry conditions.
When you get up in the morning and make your bed, you are sealing in those warm, moist conditions (and the pests) for an extended time. But, if you leave your bed unmade and fluffed up and messy, the sheets and mattress dry more completely and the pests have a harder time surviving. At least that’s the theory.
Let Your Bed Breathe, or Not?
Expert reaction is mixed. Allergists say that while it’s true that dust mites like humid conditions, most homes are humid enough in general that drying your bed is not going to make a big difference in dust mite populations. Bed bugs may not be greatly affected by the difference in humidity either, but the extra brightness on the exposed mattress might make them uncomfortable since they spend their days hiding in the dark.
Carolyn Forte, director of the cleaning lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, offers a compromise: leave your bed unmade while you eat breakfast and get ready for the day, then make it up later after it’s had some drying time. You can reduce pests and still make mom proud.