Rita Hodges

Extension service

Spring is a good time to give your beds a thorough cleaning. And, if you or family members were sick during the winter months, it’s time to clean the beds.

According to Denise Dias with Kansas Cooperative Extension Service, some tips for cleaning beds are:

• Everyday items, like sheets, pillows, mattress pads and most blankets and comforters are washable (check the label). The more decorative components, like bed skirts, throw pillows, bedspreads, coverlets and throws may be dry-clean only. Check the label.

• Mattress: vacuum to remove any loose dirt or dust. A light spray with a fabric refresher will help remove any lingering odors; for double-duty, choose one with a formula designed to reduce allergens from pollen and dust mites. Vacuum and spray one side. Wait until the mattress is dry and flip it over to vacuum and mist the other side.

• Mattress pad: check the care label, if washable, wash using the recommended bleach and the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. Machine-dry.

• Bed pillows: most can be cleaned in the washing machine, but read the label for cleaning instructions, particularly for feather or down pillows as these may need to be dry cleaned. Wash them two at a time, agitating for only one or two minutes on the gentle cycle. Use the spin dry feature of the washer at least twice to get as much moisture out of the pillows as possible. When drying, remove them and fluff them periodically. This will prevent clumping and promote even drying. Tossing a few tennis balls in the dryer with the pillows will also help prevent clumping.

• Blankets: along with the mattress pads and pillows, blankets should be washed at least four times a year. Follow the care label instructions. If the instructions are missing or faded, machine-wash in warm water on the gentle cycle and machine-dry on the low heat cycle.

• Comforter: depending on the capacity of your washing machine, it can be difficult to wash a comforter at home. Don’t try to cram it into the machine. Take it to a laundromat and wash it in one of the large capacity machines. Be sure to check the care label before washing, particularly for feather or down comforters as these may need to be dry-cleaned.

• Electric blanket: check the care label. Generally, electric blankets should not be dry-cleaned because the chemical may ruin the wiring. Most electric blankets can be machine-washed, using the gentle cycle and only two to three minutes of agitation. Do not put the blanket in the dryer unless the care label recommends it. Instead, hang it over two lines or lay it flat to dry.

• Bed skirt: if your bed skirt or dust ruffle is dry-clean only and it isn’t soiled, toss it in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet. The sheet will trap the dust and the heat of the dryer will destroy any germs. Or use an in-home dryer kit to clean and refresh it.

• Decorative pillows: some decorative pillows have removable covers so the pillow and the cover can be cleaned separately, according to the care label instructions. If the cover is dry-clean only and appears to be permanent, if you are handy with a needle and thread you can remove it by carefully ripping out the stitching along one edge. Clean the cover and the pillow (unless the care label says otherwise) using a home dry-cleaning kit. Once the parts are clean, insert the pillow and hand-sew the opening closed.

So, clean your bed for good health.

For more information, contact Rita M. Hodges, county extension agent for family and consumer sciences, 701 S. Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie; call 972-825-5175; or email rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu.