According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. Asthma sufferers alone number more than 24 million, while millions of Americans suffer from skin and food allergies like eggs and nuts.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are actually auto-immune responses to stimuli, like food, known as allergens. Allergens, best understood as triggering agents of allergic reactions, can come from a wide variety of sources like pollen, mold spores, pet dander, dust mites, clothing, and chemicals used in a wide array of products to increase certain performance characteristics of the fabric (colorfastness, stain resistance, etc.).
Patients show symptoms of allergic reactions in a variety of places, such as the nose, eyes, and skin. Some allergic reactions may come in the form of milder skin rashes, while others can be life-threatening, such as anaphylaxis from exposure to foods like peanuts or bee stings.
Dust Mites—the Root of Many Allergic Evils
Many people complain of being allergic to dust, but what they are actually talking about an allergy to certain microscopic insects known as dust mites, which can infiltrate and proliferate in warm, humid areas of the home. Dust mites can be an outright plague on the health of families, causing irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, while also triggering and asthma symptoms in millions of patients.
Dust mites feed on dead human skin. To proliferate, dust mites typically seek homes in the warmest, most humid places they can find in our homes, and that’s usually in our bedding. Dust mites will enter our mattresses, pillows, and duvet covers, as well as our sheets. Since dust mites can cause a variety of health issues for adults and children, families should take every measure, including washing bedding and using zippered bedding to repel dust mites and minimize their presence in the home. Prevention and hygiene will help minimize allergies and improve sleep, a situation with multiple benefits for families.
The Answer: Zippered Bedding
Zippered bedding, along with routinely washing your bedding—sheets, pillowcases, duvet covers—in hot water, can go a long way to minimizing the presence of dust mites in your bedroom. You need to start with protecting your bedding by investing in high-performance encasements that will serve as a barrier to protect your pillows, mattresses, and comforters from dust mite entry and proliferation.
These high-performance zippered encasements protect your bedding in a number of ways. First, they feature engineered and natural, all-cotton varieties that wick moisture and body heat away from your mattress, pillow, and duvet via microscopic pores. These same pores are so small, that while they may allow heat and moisture to escape, they are smaller than the microscopic dust mites trying to enter.
Properly engineered fabrics, such as polyester, as well as fabrics made of all-natural cotton, can both protect you from dust mites for improved health and a good night’s sleep. Look for polyester and zippered cotton encasements with high-performance fabrics featuring single-needle stitching and sealed openings that will completely eliminate pathways for dust mites to penetrate your pillows, mattresses, and comforters. Zippered bedding such as these, with proper care, should remain impenetrable for the life of your mattress, pillow, and comforter.
You’ll typically see two basic types of fabrics available as you select encasements for your mattress and bedding: engineered (usually made from highly technical polyester) and cotton. Engineered fabrics are man-made and sometimes prior-tested in different applications, such as in hazmat or cleanroom suits. With engineered fabrics like polyester, textile designers can achieve maximum breathability and barrier protection.
While engineered is the better of the two in terms of performance, many consumers prefer all-natural fabrics. Cotton, especially when combed and pre-shrunk, represents the best possible alternative to engineered fabric. Combing and shrinking allow for a precise fit on your mattress, pillow, or comforter, while manufacturers may also tightly weave the cotton fabric to form a barrier impenetrable by allergens.
Invest for a Better Sleep Experience
When you’re considering other selection qualities for zippered bedding, don’t forget texture. Why is this important? It’s actually nothing to do with direct touch, but actually through-the-bedding feel. While there are many encasements that will eliminate allergens like dust mites, that doesn’t mean mission accomplished when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.
Inferior encasements are often designed solely to eliminate allergens without a thought given to the overall sleep experience. Using these encasements is akin to wrapping your bedding and mattress in thick plastic. These thicker fabrics produce a sleep experience that’s often noisy, as they are ill-fitted to the job they were hired to do. This creates the effect of bunched-up, plastic-feeling fabric beneath your sheets, and as an added bonus, you get a crinkly noise that follows your every move during the night.
Better zippered bedding is often so soft and quiet, you’ll have to remind yourself that it’s even there. Again, many zippered encasements will do the job on allergens, but it’s worth the investment in a superior product to achieve a better sleep experience, too.
Proper Care and Hygiene Helps, Too
For proper care and hygiene, zippered bedding requires periodic washing to maintain its effectiveness. Every few months, you should wash zippered encasements to rid them of any dust mites that have sat dormant after failing to enter your bedding. On a weekly basis, you should also wash your pillow cases sheets and comforters in hot water. You should also wash bed skirts (dust ruffles) just as often as your sheets since they are designed to accumulate dust mites over time.
While dust mites and other allergens like bed bugs can have a detrimental effect on your allergies and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, rest assured there are solutions that can keep you resting assured! Start with investing in superior, high-performance fabrics with microscopic, wicking pores, single-needle stitching, and zippered enclosures—all construction attributes aimed at preventing dust mites from entering your bedding over the life of your mattress, pillows, and comforters.
When you couple this investment in elite zippered bedding with strong hygiene defined as routine washing of all bedding in hot water, you should see a big difference in your long-term allergies and the quality of your sleep on a nightly basis.