is your pillow a petri dish?

Is Your Pillow a Petri Dish?


Plus, 9 Ways to Reduce Toxins in Your Bedroom (including dust mites and airborne pollution)

It’s time to get tough on toxins in your bedroom – most specifically, that petri dish we call a pillow.

Did you know that we literally spend ⅓ of our lives asleep? Everything touching your skin during those precious hours of sleep interacts with our bodies over the course of a night (and a lifetime) on some level.

If you live 75 years, you’ll spend 25 years trying to get some shut eye!

And nobody, and we mean nobody, wants to sleep in a petri dish of bacteria, fungal spores, dead skin cells, and mites. Have you heard about or read a few of the news articles circulating that your pillow and mattress become heavier over time due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, sweat, dust mites, and dead dust mites? We did a little digging and it turns out . . . this is true.


A person sheds millions of skin cells every day and you’re spending approximately 8 of those hours in bed. And unfortunately, dust mites thrive on skin cells and the humid environment of your pillow.  

Signs of allergies triggered by your pillow are runny or stuffy nose, coughing, even wheezing and asthma attacks.

Monsters hiding IN the bed

Okay, but don’t freak out because this is (mostly) fixable. Focus on keeping your current pillows very clean and replace as often as you need to. If you have dust mite allergies (10% of the population does) or any kind of autoimmune suppression, consider replacing them more often (as often as every 6 months or so ) but replace them at LEAST every three years.

An impermeable barrier between your pillowcase and pillow helps a lot to reduce mites. So check out the variety of zippered pillow covers in addition to your pillow case, so that you’re not getting cozy with the critters.

Your bedroom might be making you sick.

is your pillow a petri dish?Your sleep environment can have a dramatic impact on your health. Another thing to consider is that you might be allergic to your pillow itself. If you’re using a down (feather) pillow and have allergies, you might want to skip the feathered pillows for something washable. If your current pillow is not made of down or memory foam, get that baby in the washing machine with hot water.

A mattress retailer did a poll and discovered that 80% of respondents indicated that they struggle with allergies. “Experts recommend that you purchase dust mite-proof sheets and pillow covers, and make sure to wash your pillow every three to six months in hot water with liquid detergent.”

As a final note about your pillow, if you’ve never replaced your pillow, you are well overdue for a new one.

If you’re going to upgrade your sheets, pillow cases, and pajamas, can we just say GO ORGANIC. Cotton crops uses 16% of ALL of the pesticides used! More than any other crop in the world. Consider upgrading to breathable pajamas and organic cotton sheets. Cotton is just dripping with pesticides with disastrous effects on the earth and the farmers. And while tests show that these pesticides do not make it to the fabric stage of cotton production, cotton batting however may still contain toxic residue. states that it’s imperative to buy organic cotton batting, as used in a mattress or pillow. Especially since this filler can be used in crib mattresses!

One last tip to breathe easier at night

As we discussed earlier in our post 10 NASA-Approved Air Purifying Houseplants, we suggest using plants to clean the air that you’re breathing, especially in the bedroom. A few particular plant varieties are excellent at removing airborne toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and benzene which we can guarantee that don't want to be breathing at night.


9 Tips for Sleeping Easier:

  1. Toss your sheets and pillow cases in the washing machine
  2. Buy zippered pillow covers to reduce dust mites
  3. Throw out old pillows and replace them with new ones at LEAST every 3 years
  4. Consider adding air purifying houseplants
  5. Consider upgrading to breathable organic cotton sheets
  6. Evaluate whether it’s time to replace your mattress or get a PVC-free mattress cover
  7. Dust regularly (you’re breathing the air in this room for 7-9 hours every single night – that’s 3,000 hours per year!)
  8. Vacuum regularly, with a HEPA filter vacuum if possible
  9. Consider buying and using a HEPA air purifier

So…when was the last time you changed out your pillows? Is it time?

9 ways to reduce toxins in your bedroom

1 comment
  1. Another thing I am looking into is bed sheets made of silver because silver prevents bacteria growth. A good brand is Miracle Brand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like