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The importance of changing your bed linen

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By Steven Clifford-Ames

Failure to change bed sheets even once a month can cause asthma, eczema and rhinitis, according to a study. Adam Fox, paediatric allergist at a leading London teaching hospital, warned that dirty sheets could exacerbate a number of health problems. “Having good bedroom hygiene when it comes to changing your sheets is about more far than just freshening up your linen,” he said. The survey of more than 2,000 people revealed that more than half of Britons sleep in dirty sheets – and women are guilty of not changing the bed linen regularly. “Our bodies shed millions of skin cells each day, many of which rub off in our sleep and are deposited in our beds. In addition to skin cells, our bodies also secrete fluids, sweat and oils during a long night’s sleep,” Fox said.  “While unsavoury in themselves, these deposits mostly pose a problem as they are all deliciously appealing for dust mites,” he added.

The droppings of microscopic creatures such as dust mites are laden with allergens which when inhaled can trigger asthma and rhinitis and may also worsen eczema. The research commissioned by home retailer Dunelm Mill, found just two in five of us change our sheets weekly – in line with the standards of TV’s cleaning gurus Kim and Aggie. A further 36 per cent perform the task fortnightly, while 17 per cent admitted changing dirty sheets just once a month or even less frequently. Meanwhile, six per cent of houseproud people stripped the sheets more than once a week, one per cent of people admitted they were changed just once a year, while three per cent had no idea. Women were revealed to be the more lax of the two sexes when it came to bedroom hygiene. More than half do not clean their sheets weekly with 12 per cent changing their sheets once a month and one per cent admitting to never changing them at all. But 40 per cent of men, on the other hand, managed a weekly change, and a further eight per cent did it even more frequently than that.