For some people, the bedroom is a sanctuary — a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world. For others, it’s nothing more than a room with a bed in it. And yet for everyone, regardless of their interior decorating skills, this part of the house is an absolute breeding ground for filth.
That’s right. Dust, dead skin, mites, and allergens are all fair game in the land of not-so-sweet-dreams, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to return your bedroom to its original state of squeaky clean. We’re counting down to the No. 1 filthiest item in your bedroom, and we’ll let you know how you can clean up your act.
11. The doorknob
Unless you live in a studio apartment, chances are your bedroom has a door, complete with a doorknob. As you’ve probably guessed — thanks to the nature of its purpose — a doorknob typically sees lots of fingerprints throughout the day. And though you can certainly control your own hand-washing habits, you can’t always control those of others.
As Style at Home mentions, it all depends on how vigilant members of your household are about washing their hands. If you share your bedroom with a partner or have kids running in and out as they please, it’s important you remember to wipe down your bedroom doorknob — and all doorknobs for that matter.
10. Lamps and table tops
Most people have a lamp sitting on their bedside table. But have you ever noticed just how dirty is really is? You probably don’t think about all the dust it collects. Yet, there it is, just sitting atop your bedside dresser, happily playing house to a whole host of grossness. “Lamp shades, shelves, and table tops collect dust like no other, and if not cleaned, you could develop allergies and other illnesses,” Bustle says. Make sure you keep these areas nice and tidy.
We’re not talking about the pillowcases here because that would be too easy. Yes, washing your linens is imperative, but so is washing the pillows themselves. “You’re sleeping on your own drool, pollen that came out of your hair. … Let’s say if you have a pet, the pet has been rolling around on your pillow,” clean-living and design expert Robin Wilson tells Glamour. So you really should be washing your pillows every six months and replacing them every two years.
Everyone likes their privacy, especially when it comes to bedroom windows. After all, you never know just how nosy those neighbors really are. For this reason, along with many others, most people hang blinds, drapes, or whatever else they might have lying around until those custom-ordered curtains come in. “Make sure that at least every five to 10 years, if not sooner, curtains and drapes are washed or dry-cleaned,” Wilson tells Glamour. Or you can use window shades, which can be easily vacuumed.
Your favorite go-to slippers just might be harboring some pretty nasty bacteria. Not only do they collect dust particles, but they grip onto anything floating around your home. Just think about how many hairballs you’ve pulled from the inside of those plush moccasins you love so much.
And if we’re really being honest here, chances are your slippers are no strangers to your morning stroll to get the daily paper. Before you trek another step in your slippers, think about showing them a little TLC. If you need help figuring it out, check out tips from How to Clean Stuff.
6. Cosmetics past their prime
You might be thinking, “I store all my beauty products in the bathroom.” But that’s not always the case for people who live with roommates and are forced to share a small bathroom with limited storage space. Or just think about how many times you’ve tossed your makeup bag onto your dresser or left your lip gloss on the nightstand. Well, in all of these cases, you’re doing nothing for the overall cleanliness of your bedroom.
In fact, Daily Mail reports, “Scientists at London Metropolitan University tested five products, including a blusher, foundation and lip gloss, and found that old cosmetics contain unsafe levels of potentially lethal bacteria.” And if you’re unsure of whether certain cosmetics have gone bad, check out Good Housekeeping‘s guide to the right time to toss beauty products.
5. Your pet
Now, we’re certainly not judging here. We’re pet lovers, too. But snuggling up to Mr. Whiskers or your oversized pooch-turned-lap-dog every night isn’t the most sanitary way to catch up on your quality sleep.
As public and veterinary health expert Jane Heller told ABC Health & Wellbeing, “Pets are not sterile … so there is always some chance of bacterial or parasitic transfer from companion animals to humans. And clearly those risks are greater if you are sleeping in, or generally closely sharing, the same environment as your animal.” But don’t worry. As long as you’re both healthy, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Do you sleep with your phone, either on your nightstand — reaching for it first thing in the morning — or even in bed with you, right next to your head? There’s no need to be shy here, as you’re certainly in good company. Tons of folks are guilty of this clean-living faux pas. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss that non-urgent email that reaches your inbox before you’ve even opened your eyes.
But heed caution with this one, as there’s an alarming amount of germs cruising around on that precious handheld device of yours. So, just how dirty are cellphones, anyway?
Your phone is dirtier than …
We were curious, too, so we did a little digging. Spoiler alert: It’s disgusting. Turns out, phones are dirtier than a slew of items we’d consider some of the filthiest around. According to The Health Site, your phone is dirtier than a public toilet. Gross. And it doesn’t just stop there. Shoe soles, kitchen counters, door knobs, and even your dog’s dinner bowl are all cleaner than your phone.
Speaking of things that are dirtier than a toilet seat, your plush bedroom carpet makes the list, as well. “Your carpet has a whopping 4,000 times more bacteria content than your toilet seat,” Good Housekeeping says. “This is just another reason why you should vacuum this surface along with your rugs once every week.”
Even though we sleep in them on a nightly basis, our pajamas tend to see the washing machine much less frequently than they should. In fact, a survey conducted by Ergoflex found men averaged 13 nights in the same pair of pajamas before washing them, while women averaged a concerning 17 nights. So what’s the big deal? You’re only sleeping in them, right?
Your pajamas are a breeding ground for germs
There’s a huge problem with rolling around in the same threads night after night. Although your favorite pair of fleece pants and your partner’s soft, old T-shirt don’t seem all that dirty, the reality is they’re screaming to be washed, like, yesterday — or 16 days ago, depending on how long you let your PJs go.
“We all have skin and gut organisms that are usually not harmful on our skin and in our gut,” says Sally Bloomfield, professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “But if they get into the wrong place they can cause problems. Quite a lot of us carry staphylococcus bacteria, which can cause infections if they get into cuts and bruises.”
So make an effort to toss last night’s PJs right into the hamper first thing in the morning.
1. Your mattress
If you haven’t guessed it by now, your mattress takes the No. 1 spot of the absolute dirtiest item in your bedroom. Although it might not be all too surprising, it’s nonetheless pretty disgusting. And according to Business Insider, the “nasty particles” you’re rolling around in and inhaling include allergy-causing dust mites, fungal spores, bacteria, and flame retardants. And that’s before mentioning any dead skin or bodily fluids of your own.
Just how dirty is your bed?
If you tend to get the willies just thinking about how dirty any given item might be, you might want to skip over this one. BBC News says the average bed hosts up to 1.5 million house dust mites.
Furthermore, Business Insider explains how. “Your mattress also provides a nice culture medium for fungi,” the publication writes. “Humans naturally produce 26 gallons of sweat in bed every year. This moisture combined with the heat of a sleeping body provides an ‘ideal fungal culture medium’ out of your mattress.”
What to do about it
Short of throwing your mattress away for good, take a breather, and consider some less permanent options. After all, a good night’s sleep is invaluable, which means you should be doing everything you can to keep that bed of yours in tip-top shape. When it comes to keeping your sacred sleeping spot clean and protected, it’s nothing a little baking soda and essential oil can’t handle. Allow a sprinkle of this mixture to soak on your mattress for an hour, then vacuum it all up.