Knowing what to trash and exactly when to do it will make the coziest room in your house healthier and more sleep-friendly.
Vacuuming the dust bunnies under your bed isn’t the only thing you need to do to maintain a healthy and hygienic bedroom. Hanging on to pillows, sheets, even your comfy slippers past their shelf life can aggravate allergies, lead to skin breakouts, and even set you up for falling or catching a bug. Do your body a favor and find out exactly when to let go of six common items everyone has in their bedroom—and the best options to replace them with.
Bedsheets, pillow cases, and duvet covers last for up to three years depending on how well they’re made. “After three years, they would be ‘lifeless,’ meaning the bulk of cotton fiber is washed away and the poly base is limp and nonabsorbent,” says Steve Samson, senior director of housekeeping at Hilton Hotels.
With the fabric in poor shape, your bedding might also develop hiding places for dust mites and bacteria. That sets you up for allergies, rashes, acne, and asthma, especially when it comes to your pillow cases, which make direct contact with your face, Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist, previously told Health.
To replace: When it comes to new sheets, we're obsessed with Brooklinen. Their Classic Core Sheet set includes a a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillowcases in the brand's 100% long-staple cotton.
They lose their shape and support each night you rest your head on them, so get new pillows every one to two years. A lumpy or flat pillow will likely result in chronic pain, headaches, and stiffness, says sleep expert Amy Diamond of Brooklyn Bedding. “You or your partner’s snoring could worsen due to lack of head and neck support,” she explains. Also, pillows can develop grooves and holes were harmful dust mites and bacteria might hide.
To replace: This pillow from Coop is one of our favorites (and the whopping 15,000 mostly-positive Amazon reviews don't hurt, either). It's made with an ultra comfy shredded hypoallergenic Certipur memory foam interior, plus a removable cover that's easy to clean.
3 Bedroom slippers
Because they don’t get much wear and tear, you might think you can putter around in your favorite cozy bedroom slippers indefinitely. Actually, they should be junked after a year, says the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City. The more you walk around in slippers, the less stable they become, putting you at risk of falling.
Then there's all the germs they pick up. Even when they appear to be clean, slippers come into contact with plenty of dirty surfaces, such as your kitchen and bathroom floors or your front entrance. Like any other footwear, they absorb sweat and can turn into breeding grounds for microbes that could make you sick, says New York City allergist and immunologist Purvi Parikh, MD. To reduce your odds of a foot or nail infection, she recommends machine washing them every one to two weeks and to “not wait until they are smelly."
To replace: Ugg slippers are always a good idea. This pair checks all the boxes: available in four neutral shades, an oh-so-cozy fuzzy interior, rubber outsole so you can wear them on errands, and fast delivery on Prime.
4 Eye mask
Whether you prefer a fabric eye mask or one with cooling gel inside, these sleep aids should be replaced annually. “Eye masks can harbor bacteria that can clog pores in your face and eyes, leading to potential acne or even eye infections in some cases,” explains Erin Reynel, founder of travel kit company Aria.
To help maintain your eye mask, Dr. Parikh advises cleaning it once a week. (The cleaning method depends on what the mask is made with, but you may be able to toss it in the laundry or simply do a wipe-down with a paper towel and soap, depending on what the tag says.) “If you are rigorous about keeping it clean, you probably only need to replace once a year,” confirms Dr. Parikh.
To replace: Slip makes some of our favorite silk pillowcases, and the brand's eye masks are equally luxurious. Because they're made of 100% pure mulberry silk, they're less likely than other fabrics to tug at the delicate skin around your eyes, which can worsen fine lines and wrinkles.
5 Air purifier
Providing clean air is the purpose of a purifier, so knowing when it’s no longer working efficiently and could be a threat to your health is a priority. Air purifier filters should be changed every three to five months,” Dr. Parikh emphasizes. As for the device, it has a shelf life too. “There’s more flexibility with the machines themselves, as you can get away with only replacing them every three years,” she says. “Otherwise they’ll grow dust mites and mold, which can trigger allergies and asthma."
To replace: Not only does the Germ Guardian True HEPA Air Purifier with UV Sanitizer nix 99% of allergens in the air, but it's has a built-in UV Light to add an extra layer of sanitization.
A quality mattress is essential to healthy sleep, and yours should be replaced every eight to 10 years, Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, previously told Health. If you’re loyal to one side of the bed, you should rotate your mattress at least twice a year to help keep it in shape as long as possible. “Mattress flipping is especially important if you share your bed with someone, no matter how much you weigh,” Ikea USA Design spokesperson Janice Simonsen tells Health. “The extra pressure will inevitably lead to irregular wear.”
The following signs tell you your mattress needs to be dragged to the curb. “With time, a mattress can lose its shape and begin to sag, creating dips and lumps,” Simonsen says. “Pressure from weight will cause all mattresses, even the best quality, to compress and break down after a period of time. Bed mites and allergens can also collect in the mattress," making you more prone to allergies.
To replace: Memory foam mattresses are easier than ever to buy online these days. Case in point: the Linenspa 8-Inch Memory Foam Hybrid mattress is crazy affordable, boasts more than 3,000 rave reviews, and is made of a top layer of memory foam with a base of durable springs.