This is probably one of my more off-the-wall blog posts, but hopefully it will inspires some ideas.
Recently I have been enjoying the company of a rather charming young Greek lady. Unlike many of her ilk, she is smart enough to know how little she knows. She has been avidly absorbing the more practical advice that myself and others have been providing to her.
This lady’s particular field of interest is dust mite allergens. Recently she was informing me that in Greece, fitted carpets are quite unusual. Greeks prefer bare floors and put down rugs in the winter. As well as being vacuumed rugs are taken outside for cleaning, often twice a week. You can also send them away to be cleaned. There are businesses that will store you rugs in summer if you do not have room. She is rather baffled by the preference for fitted carpets in northern Europe and the Americas. She has told me about scientific studies in homes that have experienced incidents of leukaemia that found connected carcinogens still present in the carpets four years later. Fitted carpets never get properly clean, she avers. She describes fitted carpets as being like Macdonalds in that “people know they are bad, but still have them”. Personally I think most people in Northern Europe or America are actually quite unaware of this. We have just never thought about the pros and cons of carpets against other options.
Another item you have probably never thought about is your mattress. A mattress is just a great sponge for absorbing dust, sweat and any other bodily fluids. None of that ever comes out and your mattress is probably a thriving ecosystem. I began to reflect on this a few years back when the mattress my landlady had supplied had become so worn that parts were sagging and metal springs poking through the surface. I began to look into replacements and half seriously gave some thought to a Brazilian hammock. I was single back then and looked like I was going to remain that way for the rest of my life. The fates had a surprise for me and rather than a Brazilian hammock I acquired a Brazilian girlfriend.
The advantage of a hammock is that the bit you actually sleep on is relatively thin. Dust can drop through it and the parts that might become dirty are relatively easy to machine wash. Hammocks are a bit of an acquired taste, however, particularly if you do not sleep alone. Back in my childhood the family would often holiday in a caravan. The upper bunk was effectively a sort of stretcher with the ends of the poles fitting into brackets on the walls. A similar idea are the camp beds or “cots” you have probably seen on programs such as “M.A.S.H”. A sheet of stout cloth, a frame to support it and some legs to raise it off the ground. It has some of the easy cleanable features of a hammock without needing a sturdy frame or walls to attach it too. Again, the main objection to these is if you do not sleep alone. Double camp beds are offered, but I have never used one personally. Many designs have a pole down the centre, which can cramp your style. What is probably needed is a camp bed with some form of mesh or net beneath the cloth part. Possibly the net needs to be in three sections. The outer nets would support the sleepers when they were apart, and the middle section provide more support when they are together. I am sure someone with a better grasp of engineering could come up with better solutions. I have seen it recommended to use a 1-2" thick memory foam mattress ("mattress topper") with a double cot. That may work sufficiently well while still being more easily cleaned than a traditional mattress.
This is an idea worth exploring. Not only would a camp bed be more hygienic but it would probably be much cheaper to produce. A colleague of mine recently had to replace his mattress and was quite stunned at the price!.