Your pillow is a source of soft comfort and a good night's sleep. But it can also be a source of allergens, primarily dust mites. Because your face and head rest on the pillow all night, your exposure is inescapable. You spend about 1/3 of every day lying on your pillow. So if you have allergies, it's a good idea to maintain an allergy-free pillow along with the rest of your bedding.

* Was hing – If you have allergies, you probably already wash your bedding in hot water each week. Include your pillow case in this washing. While hanging clothes out to dry saves energy, skip this step with your bedding if you are allergic. Run your pillow case through the dryer on a hot setting.

Wash your pillow itself every month or so (if it is washable – check the tag). Some experts say washing pillows every three months will suffice. Either way, use hot water and the dryer as well. Run them through the rinse cycle twice.

* Freeze your pillow – Place your pillow in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 24 hours. This will kill dust mites. If you have a deep freeze or case freezer, all the better (the temperatures are colder). Do this every week or so.

* Have more than one – Rotate your pillows so that you are not using the same one all the time. Dust mites feed on microscopic flakes of human skin, so using the same one over and over never gives the cycle a chance to break. Also, you will want something to sleep on while your pillow is in the wash or the freezer. And when you store your pillow, make sure it is in a sealed plastic bag and not accumulating dust on your closet shelf or elsewhere.

* Allergy-proof covers – There are allergy-proof pillow cases that you can place over your pillow. They usually have a zipper. Your regular pillow case then goes on over it. These covers are made from a material that dust mites cannot penetrate.

* Lemony spray – Dust mites, like most arachnids, do not like the scent of lemon. Add some lemon juice to the rinse cycle when you are washing your pillow or pillow case. You can also put 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a quart of water and spray that lightly over your pillow first thing in the morning and before going to bed at night.

* Replace your pillow – Every three years or so, you will need to replace your pillow. You may be able to go longer than that if you are already rotating several pillows. As for your old pillows, try covering them with a towel and using them as a bed for your cat or dog.


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