Allergy Bedding FAQ's
|What are dust mites?They may look like tiny insects, but these microscopic, eight-legged arachnids are actually related to spiders. D farinae, more commonly known as "dust mites," are too small to be seen with the human eye. They flourish in warm, humid environments, like your bed, where moisture and food is abundant, namely, your body moisture and dead skin cells. With a ready food source and a comfortable home, dust mites are now ready to increase, very rapidly. Each egg-laying female can increase the population by 25 or 30 mites a week, and depending on its age, your bed can quickly house between one and ten million dust mites. During its 80 day lifespan, the average dust mite produces around 1,000 allergenic waste particles. Prolific and widespread, there's little question as to why the dust mite allergen is the number one cause of year-round allergic rhinitis.
How do I know if I have a dust mite problem?The dust mite allergen can cause a fairly wide variety of symptoms. From sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, nasal congestion, and runny nose to stuffy ears, respiratory problems, atopic dermatitis, and wheezing (in asthmatics), the symptoms of a reaction to dust mites is a mostly mild but serious nuisance that can cause restless sleep every single night. Of these symptoms, those with allergies commonly experience morning time symptoms of congestion, coughing, runny nose, or itchy eyes. For asthmatics, the symptoms are often a dry cough or wheezing at night. If you think you may have a dust mite problem, you should consult with a board certified allergist or ENT. They can combine your medical history with your family's medical history (conditions are often genetic) and sensitivity tests to determine whether or not you are allergic to these tiny creatures.
It's worth mentioning, that you cannot see dust mites. Nor do they bite. If you see insects or are experiencing bites on you skin, it is another insect, but NOT a dust mite.
What is allergy bedding?Allergy bedding covers (also referred to as dust mite bedding or dust mite covers) are specifically designed to prevent dust mites and other allergens from infesting your bed. The only way to eliminate dust mites or reduce your reactions to them is to cut off their source of food (your dead skin cells) by setting up a barrier between yourself and the dust mites. Allergy bedding encases your entire mattress, pillow, box spring, or comforter and provides that necessary physical barrier. Not only can it keep new mites out but it seals existing mites in, so even if your mattress is several years old, you can likely benefit from the use of allergy bedding covers. It's important to remember, allergy covers are NOT sheets. A true dust mite cover has a zipper, is constructed from tightly woven fabrics, and completely encompasses your pillow or mattress - top, bottom, and sides.
Will allergy bedding cure my allergies?For both of our sakes, we wish! No, allergy bedding won't cure your allergies or asthma, nor will it make all your symptoms disappear. Allergy bedding covers are very important tool and effective way to help to reduce reactions and keep you sleeping better through the night and waking more rested. With no cure for allergies or asthma, these covers are an important part of controlling your indoor environment and limiting exposure to allergens when you are often your most vulnerable - while you sleep. When combined with regular cleaning and dusting, they can make a big difference in how you feel in the morning and how well you sleep at night. So while they are not a cure, for hundreds of thousands of people each year, they make a big difference.
How does allergy bedding help?Dust mites and other common household allergens are so tiny that they easily slip through the pores of regular bedding. Fabrics have microscopic (and some not so microscopic!) pores or spaces between the individual threads of normal bedding fabrics. They are essentially a sieve, and not a very good one when it comes to allergens. Allergy bedding, on the other hand, is woven much more tightly so that the pores are too small for dust mites and other allergens to penetrate. Cut off from their food supply, dust mites soon die. Sealed away by a cover, existing dust mites and their allergens are trapped in your mattress or pillow, unable to escape into the air you breathe while you sleep at night. Best of all, you can continue to use all your favorite decorative sheets and pillow cases since dust mite covers are a protective layer that sits between the bedding and the sheet/pillowcase. Wash the covers in hot water or dried on high heat, as needed to keep them free of dust mites and remove any allergens that may settle on top of them.
How large is dust mite allergen?The dust mite allergen averages around 10 microns in diameter with dust mites themselves being much larger. One micron is 1/25,000 of an inch. To give you an idea of how small this is, dust mites are around 300 microns, and a grain of sand can be over 800 microns! Therefore, in order to effectively block dust mite allergens, the pore size of allergy bedding must be smaller than the allergen - 10 microns. Allergy Armor Ultra has the smallest average pore size in the industry at 2.8 microns. This fabric offers the absolute best protection against allergens while retaining a cool, comfortable feel. Best of all, it's made right here in the USA and comes with a LIFETIME WARRANTY. Allergy Armor Cotton has an average pore size of 3.9 microns, while Allergy Armor Organic cotton covers have an average pore size of 4.7 microns. All of these fabrics offer effective protection against dust mites. Allergy Armor Classic and Allergy Armor Bed Bug offer excellent protection as well; instead of small pores, they have a stretch-knit polyester shell with a urethane lining that makes them impervious to dust mites as well as water resistant.
Does allergy bedding block out other allergens besides dust mites?Yes, allergy relief bedding also blocks out other allergens like mold spores and pollen, and with an average pore size of 2.8 microns, Allergy Armor Ultra blocks out even the smallest allergens like cat dander. While dust mite allergen averages around 10 microns, pet dander, specifically cat dander, is often smaller than 5 microns. Allergy Armor Ultra also has a special antimicrobial finish that provides permanent protection against mold, mildew, soiling agents, stains, and deterioration. Look for the icons associated with each fabric type to get a better idea of which fabrics block which common allergens.
What are the advantages of allergy bedding?Over 50 million people in the United States alone suffer from allergies, and of those 50 million people, nearly 70% are allergic to dust mites. This is most common with children, but millions of adults also struggle with dust mite allergies. Allergy relief bedding is the first line of defense against allergies. A Johns Hopkins University study showed that "mite population and allergen levels decreased by 90% or more within a month of placing mattress and pillow covers and treating bedding." If you decrease your exposure to allergens, then you will breathe easier, sleep more soundly, and feel better. It's that simple! Even if you don't have allergies, you'll rest easier knowing that you're not living in a miniature ecosystem of microorganisms. Lastly, allergy bedding will also protect your mattress and add years to its lifespan.
What type of fabric is allergy bedding?The type of fabric depends on the type of Allergy Armor bedding that you need. Our highest quality choice for allergy bedding, Allergy Armor Ultra, is made from microfiber polyester fabric; it is the softest, coolest, and longest lasting type of fabric. Allergy Armor Cotton fabric is a breathable membrane-free cotton/polyester blend. The durability is a little less, but so is the price. Allergy Armor Classic and Bed Bug fabrics are a stretch-knit polyester with an inner urethane membrane which makes the fabric somewhat elastic, stretchable, and water resistant but slightly louder and warm for some sleepers. Being water resistant does, however, make it a great option for children. We also offer an organic cotton variety that provides the same protection but made from a certified organic cotton fabric. Our Allergy Armor Basic box spring encasings are also a non-woven, water-resistant fabric made from polypropylene, similar to what reusable totes are made from. Refer to our Allergy Bedding Buying Guide for a more detailed explanation of the different fabric types.
Is it warm to sleep on?Allergy bedding has improved dramatically over the years. Twenty five years ago, all allergy bedding was hot, noisy, and uncomfortable. Today, thanks to technological advances, you can buy allergy bedding that feels just as cool and comfortable as regular sheets. You still may find that cheap allergy bedding, like that found in big box stores is hot, noisy, and not as durable as that purchased from a more specialized company. Other varieties, though softer to the touch, are made from terry fabric with a urethane lining - again, warmer and not long-lasting, and lastly, there are still some covers made from plastics. These types, often mass produced overseas, are many times not even a genuine fabric but instead a rubber/plastic substance that can be warm, slippery, or noisy to sleep on. As a good rule of thumb, polyester fabrics are the coolest, then cotton, then fabrics with a lining, and finally plastics/vinyls/rubbers.
How do I clean it?Caring for allergy relief mattress and pillow covers is simple. Most covers can be machine washed in warm or hot water and gently tumble dried. Others can be wiped with a wet wash cloth. Never use bleach. For most people, pillow covers should be washed, at a minimum, every couple of weeks. Mattress covers need to be washed only 3 or 4 times per year and periodically, the use of a quality HEPA vacuum cleaner to clean the top of the mattress cover can help. Washing frequency can vary quite a bit from person to person. Traditional bedding (sheets, pillowcases, etc.) should be washed in hot water every one to two weeks, and for those with severe allergies, even the covers can be washed this frequently. Visit our bedding care instructions page for specific details on how to care for you particular brand of Allergy Armor bedding.
Which size should I buy?It is very important to measure the depth of your mattress when ordering allergy bedding. Simply measure your mattress from the bottom to top, seam to seam. Don't worry if your mattress is thicker in the middle, as our fabrics are cut to accommodate center bulges or the unevenness that can come with older mattresses. In most fabrics, the sizes we have available are 9" deep, 12" deep, 15" deep, and 18" deep. For mattresses 9" deep and smaller, order 9" encasings. If there is extra fabric left over, it can be easily tucked between the mattress and box spring. Since we manufacture the majority of the bedding covers we offer, custom sizes are also available.
What about an allergy cover for my box spring or comforter?Box springs can be encased to keep dust mites and other allergens from penetrating your mattress. Many people skip the box spring cover, and for light and even some dealing with moderate allergies, this is often fine, but those with the most severe allergies or asthma will want to take this extra step. To make the process easier, we offer bedding packages that include the mattress cover of your choice, two standard pillow covers, and a box spring cover. These encasings work synergistically with mattress encasings to provide maximum protection.
How do the covers work with a mattress pad?Many people use a mattress pad for additional softness or support. In terms of the effectiveness of your mattress cover, there are a couple things to keep in mind. Ideally, you would want the mattress pad to sit atop the mattress then for both pieces to be covered by the mattress cover. Sometimes though, this isn't possible. All is not lost though. Some mattress pads are naturally dust mite resistant, like those made of natural rubber, latex, and memory foam. For mattress pads made of these materials, dust mites generally have a more difficult time getting into the material and making a home for themselves. So while it will ALWAYS be ideal to have the mattress pad covered by the mattress cover, with some types, it's not critical.
When should I replace my mattress?We recommended that you replace your mattress every 10 years-at the very least. When you replace your mattress, we recommend that you switch to a hypoallergenic mattress. Generally, those made from latex, rubber, or memory foam are going to far less hospitable to dust mites. In the meantime, you can increase the lifespan of your current mattress by using a dust mite cover. Since you spend about a third of your life sleeping, shouldn't you have bedding that lets you to sleep comfortably and allergy-free?
Why doesn't everybody have allergy bedding?Most people, even asthmatics and allergy sufferers who are the most severely affected groups, are unaware of the proliferation of allergens in their bedrooms. They do not realize that they shed 2-3 pounds of skin per year, while spending about a third of that year in bed; therefore, they deposit about a pound of skin directly into their mattress. All of that dead skin feeds the growing dust mite population living in their bed. After 10 years, the weight of the average mattress can double due to dust mite infestation, body moisture, and dead skin cells.
Where can I buy allergy bedding?
Am I forgetting anything?
Environmental control and allergy relief isn't a one-size-fits all solution. Different things work for different people, but the fact remains that allergen avoidance remains the most advised solution to dealing with allergies and asthma. And, allergy bedding covers remain one of the easiest, longest lasting ways to reduce allergens in a place you need it the most - the bedroom. There are other things beyond bedding that can help. Indoor air quality is a growing concern, but you can remove allergens from your home's air with a HEPA air purifier. Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters can remove allergens from your carpet and upholstery, and dehumidifiers also play an important role in making your home allergen-free. AchooAllergy.com also sells a wide variety of cleaning products specifically designed to eliminate dust mites and other allergens.