Why Doctors Recommend Allergen-Proof Encasings
About 20 years ago, researchers began to wonder what could be done in the home environment to help control the allergen triggers that cause asthmatic and allergic reactions. Because we spend one-third of our life in our bedroom, it seemed the natural environment on which to focus. Tests were done in which one group got zippered allergen-proof bedding encasings, while the control group had no encasings. The results of even such simple tests were dramatic.
"At the end of a 1-month study period, there was a marked and statistically significant difference in symptoms and signs of asthma between the two groups."
Murray MB, FRCP, Andrew; Ferguson MD, FRCP, Alexander. "Dust-Free Bedrooms in the Treatment of Asthmatic Children with House Dust or House Dust Mite Allergy: A Controlled Trial." Pediatrics. 1983.
And from an article published by Johns Hopkins:
"Mite population and allergen levels decreased by 90% or more within a month of placing mattress and pillow covers and treating bedding."
Eggleston MD, P. "Clinical Trials of Allergen Avoidance in Established Asthma." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. November 2001.
Here are the facts: dust mites love the warm, humid conditions of our bedding, so much so, that the typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside! Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and wheezing are some typical reactions to dust mite allergen. Think of your immune system as a bucket. As you breathe in allergens, your "bucket" begins filling up, but you don't experience irritating symptoms until your "bucket" overflows. Encasings are an integral part of keeping your "bucket" from overflowing.
Doctors know the residual benefit of sleeping in an allergen-free environment. In fact, according to a revealing medical journal article, "studies of primary prevention of allergic disease have demonstrated that decreased exposure to allergens in infancy may prevent the development of allergic disease." (German JA, Harper MB. "Environmental Control of Allergic Diseases." American Family Physician. August 2002) So even if you or your children have not been diagnosed with allergies or asthma, encasings are still an invaluable investment in your family's health.
Dust mites are tiny creatures, typically around 250-300 micrometers in length. By comparison, a single grain of beach sand can be more than 800 micrometers! Humans react to the proteins in the dust mite allergen (approximately 10 micrometers in size), made up of decomposed mite bodies and their feces. Because of the microscopic size of dust mites and their allergen, the technology used to develop and manufacture zippered "allergen proof" or "mite-proof" encasings can be complicated. However, the process by which they make users feel better is fairly simple.
First, the mites that are inside the encased pillow or mattress are trapped. Blocked from their constant food source (your shed, dead skin cells), they eventually die. In the meantime, any mite allergen is completely blocked by the encasing from getting into the air you and your family breathe. It should be noted that because zippered enclosures are not a tight enough seal to completely prevent the escape of mite allergen, some doctors recommend zipper-tape completely protect a bed from mite allergen.
There are several methods for judging the effectiveness of encasing fabrics. While some encasing products boast a tiny "pore size" as a mark of dust mite resistance, the smaller the pore size, the less breathable the encasing. In addition, there is no standard for measuring pore size in non-membrane materials because the weaves all vary slightly. The best assessment of a dust mite encasing's effectiveness and comfort is to measure how much allergen is actually transferred through the material vs. how much airflow the material allows. Independent labs perform various tests to measure each of these properties.
If you or your child were diagnosed with allergies 15 years ago, you may have left the doctor's office confused by all the changes you would need to make to your home environment. Perhaps the doctor suggested "plastic covers" for your family's pillows, mattresses and box springs. After a few sticky, crinkly nights on your brand new plastic covers, you may have chosen to suffer with allergic symptoms in exchange for an encasing-free, night's sleep.
The scientific evidence supporting the benefits of encasings hasn't changed, but - fortunately for allergy sufferers - the technology used to make them has! Doctors still recommend zippered, allergen-proof encasings, but the choices and comfort levels available are better than ever before.
From our inception, National Allergy has been known as the nation's premier, doctor-recommended source for bedding encasings. The first zippered mattress and pillow encasings were often made from vinyl. The problem with vinyl was the lack of breathability, making sleep hot and uncomfortable. Today, membrane-free, barrier technology has made fabrics available that are soft, breathable (as seen in the chart below), lightweight and barely detectable on the bed.
Some of our readers may remember the earliest "improved" bedding encasings, such as those made from terry cloth bonded to thick vinyl. We also introduced a polyester "Tricot-knit" fabric bonded to vinyl that was more flexible than the first generation of materials. While those newer innovations offered more comfort and flexibility, encasing users could only dream of what would be coming off of looms in the next decade.
About 10 years ago, National Allergy introduced new membrane technology called SatinSoft ClassicTM (now called BedCare Classic) for allergen-proof encasings. BedCare Classic features a silky-soft knit polyester fabric that is bonded to an ultra-thin, very lightweight ComforTech membrane made of polyurethane. The BedCare Classic bedding encasing is much cooler and more comfortable than thick vinyl, yet still adds a degree of water resistance for those who want added protection for bedding. We still carry this time-honored favorite, and guarantee its comfort and mite-blocking effectiveness in all our mattress and pillow encasings.
The latest generation of allergen-proof encasings are free of membranes altogether. A popular economical choice for thousands of our customers is BedCare Economy, our most affordable encasing. BedCare Economy is made of a non-woven, tri-laminate fabric that is both durable and breathable. While these covers do not carry the lifetime warranty of our other BedCare encasing products, BedCare Economy, offers a lightweight, cost-effective solution with a 10-year warranty.
The BedCare All-Cotton, BedCare Organic All-Cotton, and BedCare Elegance materials take membrane-free, barrier-weave technology to a whole new level in comfort and allergen protection. The image at right is BedCare Elegance, magnified to show this barrier-weave technology. These three woven allergen-proof encasings, as well as our non-woven BedCare Classic encasings, are offered with a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
Why are we so excited about the latest and greatest in encasing technology? Because it means our customers are sleeping better with more comfort and fewer dust mites than ever!
|Tip: If you'd like to completely replace older pillows rather than encase them, consider using our mite-proof pillows. They are made from our luxurious BedCare All-Cotton material, which makes them mite-proof without the need for an encasing. Our customers are giving them rave reviews!|
The style and size choices available for encasings today can be confusing. All National Allergy encasings are made with rust-proof, zippered enclosures and reinforced seams to ensure complete quality and great protection. Here is a chart you can reference when making your next encasing purchase, or pass along to a friend or family member who suffers from allergies or asthma.
|BedCare Economy||BedCare Classic||BedCare
|BedCare Elegance||BedCare Organic
|Complete protection at an affordable price without the smell or crinkly noise associated with vinyl covers.||Complete protection with a soft and stretchable fabric that gives the look and feel of satin.||Softest and coolest option with the highest level of protection.||Luxuriously soft and cool with added attention to construction details.
||The same coolness and high level of protection as the All-Cotton, but with natural, untreated fibers.|
|Pore Size*||No pores due to fabric.||No pores because
of the barrier membrane.
|2.6 microns||2.1 microns||4.8 microns|
an ultra-thin polyurethane membrane.
|100% cotton||100% polyester microfiber||100% unbleached GOTS certified organic cotton|
|Care**||Machine washable cold. Hang dry.||Machine wash warm.
|Machine wash hot
|Machine wash warm.
|Bed Bug Proof||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
$5.99 - $7.99
$10.99 - $12.99
$15.99 - $25.99
$13.99 - $39.99
$24.99 - $34.99
|Pros||Great option for those with a tighter budget.Great to take when traveling, for college students or for use on box springs.||High level of soft, waterproof protection with no crinkling noise while you sleep.||High level of protection with a soft, cool sleep surface.||Replicates the feel and coolness of cotton at some savings.Offers a Polyester option for those that prefer this over cotton yet still want to maintain a low pore size.||High level of protection on a soft, cool sleep surface for those who suffer from chemical sensitivities.|
|Cons||Fabric is not as soft or durable as other options.||Some buyers report that the non-porous membrane makes them too hot while sleeping.||Price is higher than Economy and Classic.||Some reviews claim fabric is more slick.||Most expensive.|
* Pore Size: As fibers are woven together to create a piece of fabric, the small openings where the fibers intersect are called pores. The tighter the fibers are woven together, the smaller the pore size becomes, resulting in fewer materials (including animal dander and dust mite allergens) escaping into the environment. Doctors recommend a pore size of at least 6 microns to protect against dust mites. For small dander, they recommend under 3 microns.
** Care: Washing and care is an important step in reducing allergens. All bedding (pillow cases, sheets, comforters, etc.) should be washed at least every two weeks in hot water (130-140 degrees F) to eliminate mites and their allergen. Based on this schedule, allergy covers only need to be washed 2-3 times per year.
*** Popularity Rating is based on gross sales of BedCare products.
There are a few other important steps you can take to make your sleep as allergy-free as possible. Since dust mites can still dwell in your sheets, blankets and extra pillows, wash them often, particularly during pollen season or if you have pets.
Studies show that washing fabrics at temperatures above 140°F every 1-2 weeks will kill the dust mites. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for child-safety reasons, water temperatures should be below 120°F.
|The best solution for eliminating dust mites and their allergen in your clothes and bedding without the wear and concern of extra-hot washings, is to wash in cold or warm water with a laundry additive such as AllerTech Laundry Additive. This plant-based product is non-toxic and scientifically proven to kill dust mites. AllerTech Laundry Additive combines benzyl alcohol with tea tree oil and methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) as a subtly fragrant, effective weapon against house dust mites.
Unfortunately, not all blankets can be conveniently washed, and snuggling up to a fluffy comforter in the cold winter months could be a recipe for headaches and runny noses. Instead of having to replace your favorite comforter, you can seal it in a completely mite-proof barrier. National Allergy's comforter covers are offered in four fabric choices, including BedCare All-Cotton, BedCare Classic, BedCare Elegance, and BedCare Organic All-Cotton.
When choosing a comforter, BedCare Allergen Barrier Comforters protect against dust mites and other allergens using hypoallergenic fiberfill covered in our BedCare 100% polyester fabric with a pore size of just 2.1 microns!
If you love down, but have sensitivities, Ogallala Hypodown® comforters and pillows blend goose down and milkweed fibers for a naturally hypoallergenic comforter that suppresses down-related allergens.