We all love our cozy beds, but beneath the surface lies a hidden world of germs. According to a new study by Amerisleep the bacteria that resides in our bed can sometimes be dirtier than a toilet seat.
In an eye-opening study, volunteers were asked to go four weeks without washing their sheets to examine the microscopic parts of mattresses and bedding. They found that after one week, pillowcases and sheets contained between three and five million colony-forming units per square inch. By the fourth week, that number skyrocketed to nearly 12 million. Surprisingly, pillowcases washed just one week before had over 17,000 times more bacteria than a typical toilet seat.
A variety of bacteria
The study identified 4 main strains of bacteria, with gram-negative rods accounting for over 41 percent of the bacteria present on the fabric we sleep on. These bacteria are known for causing pneumonia and various infections, and the majority of them can even develop antibiotic resistance. Gram-positive rods and bacilli were the next most commonly found bacteria. Bacilli are often associated with food poisoning and similar infections, while gram-positive rods typically pose minimal harm to humans.
However, the findings showed that not all parts of our bedding are equally prone to bacterial distribution. While we may wash our faces and heads daily, that doesn’t mean fewer bacteria on our pillowcases. Examining the bacterial distribution, researchers found bedsheets had the highest concentration of gram-negative rods and gram-positive rods. Pillowcases, on the other hand, claimed first place for both bacilli and gram-positive cocci.
They also collected bacteria from mattresses of different ages, ranging from less than a year old to 7 years old. As expected, newer ones contained a relatively low three million CFUs, while a 7-year-old mattress accumulated over 16 million CFUs.
The next time you get into bed, remember that regular washing can help maintain a cleaner and healthier sleep environment. Amerisleep recommends washing all bedsheets and pillowcases once a week.