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How Filthy is Your Pillow?

They sure look nice and welcoming, but do you know what's inside? (Photo courtesy of Flickr user Joelk75)

They sure look nice, but do you know what's inside? (Photo courtesy of Flickr user Joelk75)

Bed bugs seem to be getting all of the attention lately. There may be more stealth organisms hanging out where you hit the hay, SleepBetter.org has found in a new study appropriately named "Fungus Among Us."

SleepBetter tested pillows owned by more than 1,000 college students across the country, and they found that the average pillow has 350,000 potential live bacteria colonies and nearly 100,000 potential live yeast and mold colonies. Eek!

Some other fast pillow facts:

  • Of those tested, men's average nearly twice as much bacteria as women's
  • Not surprisingly, pillows that were three to five years or older had many more microbes than those less than one year old
  • More than 40 percent of those surveyed admit to never washing their pillows Did you know you should do this twice a year? Here are instructions!

The SleepBetter team asked me if I would like to submit a pillow for testing as well, so that I could compare my (very unwelcome) bedmates with those already uncovered in the test. I was a little leery at first to learn the truth. But I had to admit that after hearing how common the microbes are, I might just sleep better knowing what was really hiding under the pillowcase.

I'll share the good news first: My pillow was relatively clean on the yeast and mold front. The not-so-good news? It was about average when compared to other pillows tested for bacteria. One strain in particular they were able to detect was a generally harmless microbe (that can, in very rare cases, cause pulmonary issues) often found in water, dust and soil. The perfect nudge I need to make sure I schedule time for evening showers—and also invest in new pillows every 18 to 24 months!

For complete results of the study, click here.

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Now tell us: Are you vigilant about keeping your bedding tidy?

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