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Facts and Myths: The Truth About Microbes

We’ve already stressed the importance of regularly washing your bedsheets, but have you ever thought about what could be hiding in those sheets when you don’t clean them as often as you should? Microbes (or Microorganisms) are microscopic fungi, bacteria, or viruses that oftentimes cause infections or illness. Today, we’re going to take you through a couple crucial facts and debunkable myths to take away any confusion about these tiny organisms and what the deal really is with keeping your bedroom as healthy as possible.

Fact #1: Microbes can turn your sheets into the dirtiest place in your home.

Left unchecked, all that sweat, dead skin cells, and saliva can fester in your bed and actually make it unhealthy. Studies have found that a single pillowcase, after a week of being unwashed, can harbor nearly 17,000 times the bacteria than is found on a toilet seat. If that doesn’t make you want to throw everything into the laundry machine immediately, I don’t know what will. (Source: The National Science Foundation)

Fact #2: Hot water or bleach kills off bad microbes in your bedding.

The longer you go without washing your sheets, the more microbes will accumulate and could lead to getting you sick or trigger some bad allergies. But even if you wash your sheets, real stubborn bacteria can hang around if you don’t use hot water in the laundry. In order to properly eliminate all the bad microbes hiding in your bedding, we suggest using water at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit when you do bedding laundry. Bleach is also efficient in killing off microbes, so if your sheets can handle the other effects of bleach, let them soak in a diluted bucket of bleach for at least ten minutes to make sure all the germs have been killed off. Once the germs come into contact with hot water or are soaked with bleach, they are gone for good. (Source: Business Insider)

Myth #1: All microbes are bad.

While these sneaky devils hiding out in your bed can get you sick, some are actually crucial to our functioning ecosystem. “Microorganism” simply means microscopic, single-celled organisms like bacteria and fungi. But microbes are a crucial part of agriculture and more recently have become a central part of the healthy foods movement. For example, probiotics have become popular as “good bacteria” and a way to regulate digestion and maintain a healthy immune system. Probiotics are in themselves microorganisms: live bacteria that shows up in foods like yogurt, kombucha, and even sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles and keeps you from getting sick. All this is to say, don’t be scared of all mention of microbes, but maybe stick to keeping them in your smoothie, not your bed. (Source: Bitesize Bio)

Myth #2: Microbes only hurt humans.

Microorganisms take the form of bacteria and fungi, and when in the right iteration these can cause a wipeout of an entire plant species. During the Great Irish Potato Famine in the mid-1800s, for example, a fungus-like organism spread throughout the Emerald Isle, causing the disease of the island’s potato plants. Similarly, when a foreign fungus reached the United States in the 1900s, all the American Chestnut trees were obliterated as the fungus consumed all the Chestnut trees on the East Coast of the United States. While these types of microbes aren’t necessarily festering in your unwashed bed sheets, you can’t underestimate the power of these microscopic cells when left unchecked. (Source: Bitesize Bio)

All things considered, the more you know about microbes, the more control you will have over them! When good microbes are used in food, it can keep us healthy and digesting properly. We can avoid the bad microbes by practicing good hygiene and washing our bedding as frequently as possible. We recommend once a week in hot water to ensure all those nasty cells are killed off for good!

Have a look at our How Often You Should Really be Washing Your Sheets blog for more on keeping your linens clean!

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