RAVE FabriCARE: Position Papers

Our brief discussion of various issues related to
fine garments, household textiles and accessories

Share this Position Paper:
Cleaning down and down/feather pillows: Does cleaning kill dust mites?

 

Cleaning down and down/feather pillows: Does cleaning kill dust mites?

By: Stu Bloom

In other Position Papers, we explained:

In this Position Paper, we explain that the safest way to kill dust mites in the dust mites in your down or down/feather filled pillows is through the use of a dry high heat process.

Here’s the background…

The two most common species of dust mites found in the United States are the North American dust mite (dermatophagoides farinae or der f dust mite) and the European dust mite (dermatophagoides pteronyssinus or der p dust mite).

As you sleep, your skin sloughs off skin cells (commonly called dander). 

Unless the fabric used to construct your pillow shell is certified to be a 100% barrier, skin cells pass through the pillow shells covering your pillows and into the down and down/feather fill inside your pillows.

Every day, a human being sheds 0.5 to 1 gram of skin cells, enough to feed thousands of dust mites for many months.

Unless the fabric used to construct your pillow shell is certified to be a 100% barrier, dust mites also pass through the pillow shells covering your pillows and into the down and down/feather fill inside your pillows.

The dust mites feed on these dead skin cells.

These dust mites, in turn, excrete dust mite feces that contains a protein allergen called Der f 1 (or dermatophagoides farinae allergen 1) and Der p 1 (dermatophagoides pteronyssinus allergen 1).

It is these protein allergens — inside your down and down/feather pillows — that are the primary triggers of asthma and allergies.

Accordingly, any process that is used by a dry cleaner or pillow refurbishing service to “clean” your  down and down/feather fill must include:

  • killing all live dust mites in your fill, and
  • significantly denaturing (or deactivating) the Der f 1/Der p 1protein allergens in the dust mite feces in your fill.

Do cleaners kill the dust mites and  denature (or deactivate) the protein allergens in your down or down/feather fill ?

 

Many dry cleaners and pillow refurbishment services claim that their pillow cleaning machine — equipped with a ozone-producing ultraviolet light (UV-V light) — kills dust mites and significantly denatures (or deactivates) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in the dust mite feces.

THIS CLAIM IS FALSE.

Consider, for example, this statement from one pillow refurbishment service:

During our cleaning process, the contents of your pillow are removed for processing in a machine that resembles an industrial dryer. It fluffs and tumbles the down and feathers, rejuvenating them under anti-bacterial, anti-microbial light that silently kills bacteria, microbes, dust mites, etc. that have made their way into your pillow.”

The addition of the words “dust mites” to this statement, renders this statement FALSE.

This begs the questions: Why did they add the words “dust mites” to the statement? Surely they must know that their “anti-bacterial, anti-microbial” UV-V light cannot kill dust mites?

They included the words “dust mites” for 3 reasons:

  • it sounds plausible.
  • it sounds scientific.
  • dust mites, although harmless, induce fear. And fear is always a great marketing tactic.

Truth is, you:

  • can’t kill the dust mites inside your down or down/feather fill with an ozone-producing ultraviolet light (UV-V light), and
  • can’t significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in the dust mite feces in your fill with an ozone-producing ultraviolet light (UV-V light).

Period. End of story.

While ozone-producing ultraviolet light (UV-V light) does kill the bacterial and viral pathogens (bacteria and viruses that can cause disease), there is no scientific research to support this claim.

Fact is, the scientific research indicates that the opposite is true.

Here’s one example…

Abidin et al, “Effect of a commercial air ironizer on dust mites Der p and Der f in the laboratory”, Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 2(2), pages 156-158, February 2012.

This study investigated the efficacy of ozone in killing the American dust mite (Der f) and the European dust mite (Der p) by (1) direct exposure, and (2) exposure inside a mattress.

Here are the pertinent results:

When the dust mites were directly exposed to ozone, it took

  • 18 hours to kill 50% of the Der f dust mites

  • 10 hours to kill 50% of the Der p dust mites

  • 36 hours to kill 95% of the Der f and Der p dust mites.

At best, it took 72 hours to kill 95% of dust mites with direct exposure.

When dust mites inside a mattress were exposed to ozone, it took

  • 72 hours to kill 50% of the Der f dust mites

  • 132 hours to kill 50% of the Der p dust mites

  • 403 hours to kill 95% of the Der f dust mites

  • 956 hours to kill 95% of the Der p dust mites.

At best, it took 956 hours to kill 95% of dust mites inside a mattress.

If you accept the premise that a covered mattress is a proxy for a covered down or down/feather pillow, for all practical purposes, ozone-producing ultraviolet light (UV-V light) 

  • cannot kill the dust mites inside your fill and 
  • cannot significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1protein allergens in the dust mite feces inside your fill.

Stated another way, your dry cleaner or pillow refurbishing service can only kill the dust mites inside your fill and significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1protein allergens in the dust mite feces inside your fill if they’re willing to to treat each pillow they service for anywhere from 16.8 days to 39.8 days.

And, after all that time, still only achieve a 95% mortality rate.

If you’re lucky.

There is only ONE process that can kill the dust mites and significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in the dust mite feces in your fill: A DRY HIGH HEAT PROCESS.

Looking for proof?

Read on…..

Dry high heat kills dust mites and significantly denatures (or deactivates) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens

 

WHITE KNIGHT pillowCARE is a division of RAVE FabriCARE located in Scottsdale, Arizona.

At WHITE KNIGHT pillowCARE, we follow a 4 step approach to cleaning the fill in your down and down/feather bed pillows:

Step 1: Kill the dust mites in your down and down/feather fill by subjecting the entire pillow (pillow shell and fill) to a dry heat process.

Step 2: Denature (or deactivate) and/or significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in the dust mite feces in your fill by subjecting the entire pillow (pillow shell and fill) to a dry heat process.

Step 3: Extract the down and feather dust, dead skin cells, dead dust mites and denatured (or deactivated) dust mite feces from your fill using a sifting process.

Step 4: Denature (or deactivate) the bacterial and viral pathogens (bacteria and viruses that can cause disease) in your fill using a germicidal ultraviolet light (UV-C light).

These 4 steps are part of our 5 step PillowPure ® process, a process that’s protected by a provisional process patent issued by the US Patent Office.

Unlike other dry cleaners and pillow refurbishing services who only deliver Steps 3 and 4, WHITE KNIGHT pillowCARE delivers all 4 steps.

And unlike other dry cleaners and pillow refurbishment services, we use no water, wet or dry steam, infra red heat, dry cleaning solvents or fluids, chemicals, detergents, ozone, fragrances, moldicides, fungicides, pesticides or miticides.

Our entire PillowPure ® process is dry and green.

Our dry high heat process is based on independent scientific research

 

Every living organism has a thermal death point based on temperature and time.

Louis Pasteur proved this in the 1860’s when he discovered how to pasteurize food products using temperature and time. Pasteurization reduced the levels of contamination in food products, allowing for safe consumption and longer term storage. All without damaging the food product.

At WHITE KNIGHT pillowCARE, we use these very same principles of temperature and time to kill the dust mites in your down and/or feather fill and to significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in the dust mite feces in your fill.

You could think of our process as Pillow Pasteurization ®.

Dry heat has been used for decades by a variety of industries and in a variety of applications to denature (or deactivate) or significantly denature (or deactivate) proteins in microorganisms.

Take the sterilization of medical instruments, for example.

In the case of medical instruments, the goal of sterilization is to eliminate, remove or kill microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, spores, etc.

There are a number of methods used to sterilize medical instruments.

One such method is dry heat sterilization.

This process involves heating the instruments to a specific temperature for a specified period of time in order to denature (or deactivate) the proteins in these microorganisms.

At WHITE KNIGHT pillowCARE, our approach to killing dust mites and significantly denaturing (or deactivating) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in dust mite feces is based these same principles and is supported by the conclusions of several scientific studies.

Here are 3 such studies:

Chang et al, Survival of the house dust mite, Indoor Air, Volume 8, Issue 1, Page 34-38, March 1988

 

This study investigated the effect of dry heat on dust mites.

The study found that:

  • a constant temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit) for a full 10 minutes will kill 100% of dust mites by dry heat
  • a constant temperature of 70 degrees Celsius (148 Fahrenheit) for a full 5 minutes will kill 100% of dust mites by dry heat.

Mahakittikum et al, Killing dust mites with heat, Allergy, Volume 56, Issue 3, Page 262, March 2001

This study investigated the effect of dry heat and wet heat on dust mites.

The study found that:

  • a constant temperature of 50 degrees Celsius or more (122 Fahrenheit or more) for a full 20 minutes will kill 100% of dust mites by dry heat
  • a constant temperature of 60 degrees Celsius or more (140 Fahrenheit or more) for a full 20 minutes will kill 100% of dust mites by wet heat
  • dry heat is more effective than wet heat.

Mihakittikum et al provides yet another reason why washing your down and down/feather pillows – to kill the dust mites and to significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in dust mite feces –is a futile exercise.

Why futile exercise?

Because your home washer can’t reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit and, even if it could, your washer couldn’t maintain that temperature at a constant 140 degrees Fahrenheit for the full 20 minutes.

Cain et al, The effect of dry heat on mite, cat and dog allergens, Allergy, Volume 53, Issue 12, Page 1213-5, December 1988

 

This study investigated the effect of dry heat on protein allergens in dust mite feces.

The study found that:

  • There’s a 95% reduction in protein allergens at a constant temperature of 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) for a full 15 minutes
  •  There’s a 100% reduction in protein allergens at a constant temperature of 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit) for a full 30 minutes.

Our dry high heat process is effective

 

The 3 studies mentioned above prove the following:

The dust mites in your down and down/feather pillows can be killed and the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens can be significantly denatured (or deactivated) only if the fill is subjected to a dry heat process and that temperature is maintained at a constant temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit for a full 15 minutes.

The principle behind our dry heat process is simple:

  • 70% to 80% of the weight of a dust mite is water.
  • Dust mites absorb the water from the air.
  • They need this water to survive and replicate.
  • Dust mites have no ability to regulate their body temperatures in response to changes in external temperatures.
  • By subjecting dust mites to our dry heat process, death is by desiccation (the removal of moisture by heat).

While our dry heat process does not and cannot denature (or deactivate) 100% of the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in your down and/or feather fill, our dry heat process can significantly reduce the presence of these protein allergens in your fill (up to 95%).

100% denaturing – a goal that’s almost impossible to achieve outside of a controlled laboratory experiment – would require a much higher temperature (248 degrees Fahrenheit) for a much longer period of time (30 minutes).

So there may be some protein allergens remaining in your fill after completion of the dry heat process.

We compensate for this by using pillow shells that are a 100% barrier to the transfer of Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens out of  your pillow shells.

This way the impact of any protein allergen residue that might remain in your fill after completion of the dry heat process is reduced, for all practical purposes, to almost zero.

Our constant temperature dry high heat chamber

 

Based on the results of these independent scientific studies, we built our own laboratory-quality constant temperature dry high heat chamber.

The dry heat process involves:

  • placing pillows on grid shelves inside the heat chamber in such a way that there is no physical contact between the pillows and in such a way that air can freely circulate around each pillow.

  • slowly increasing the ambient temperature of the air inside the chamber to the specified temperature

  • holding that temperature (212 degrees) constant for a specified period of time (15 minutes)

  • cooling down the air inside the heat chamber to it’s original ambient temperature after that specified period of time has elapsed.

During the course of this operation, internal fans move the heated air throughout the heat chamber to eliminate any possibility of cold spots. Temperature sensors and a digital temperature display allow us to monitor the temperature inside the heat chamber at all times.

Our dry heat process offers a number of distinct advantages:

  • Heat is a highly effective and proven method.

  • Heat is non-chemical, non-toxic and non-residual.

  • Heat is environmentally friendly and cost effective.

  • Heat eliminates the need for moldicides, fungicides, pesticides and miticides

  • Heat reduces odors and removes many volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

  • Heat removes the need to wash your down and down/feather pillows in hot water in a futile attempt to kill the dust mites and to significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1 protein allergens in your fill.

 Dry high heat does not damage your down and down/feather fill

 

We’re frequently asked whether our dry heat process will damage the down and/or feathers.

The answer is an unqualified no.

Why do we say that?

Because US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations require that down and/or feathers imported into the USA by pillow and comforter manufacturers must be either partially washed (aka pre-washed) or fully washed (and, if partially washed, the down and/or feathers must be fully washed in the USA before use).

In order to qualify as fully washed, the down and feather must be washed, rinsed and then dried at a minimum of 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 30 minutes.

In other words, during the course of our dry heat process, we subject your down and/or feather to a lower temperature (212 degrees vs 248 degrees) and for a shorter duration (15 minutes vs 30 minutes) than that mandated by the USDA for fully washed down and/or feathers.

Summary

 

The choice is yours: You can either trust an unsubstantiated claim appearing on some website or you can trust the scientific research.

At WHITE KNIGHT pillowCARE, we put our trust in the scientific research. Which is why we use a dry heat process to:

  • kill all live dust mites in your fill, and
  • significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1protein allergens in the dust mite feces in your down or down/feather fill.

Please remember this: the process of using dry heat to kill the dust mites in your down and down/feather pillows and to significantly denature (or deactivate) the Der f 1/Der p 1protein allergens in the dust mite feces in your fill is protected by a provisional patent issued by the US Patent Office.

So it’s available only at WHITE KNIGHT pillowCARE.

Of course.

 

Share this Position Paper:

 

Filed Under:

Bed Pillow Cleaning,Position Paper

Author

Stu Bloom

Stu Bloom is Founder and President of RAVE FabriCARE. RAVE FabriCARE, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, cares for fine garments, household textiles and accessories and serves clients throughout the USA and Canada. Stu is the author of various ebooks on these subjects, all of which are available from www.ravefabricare.com/freestuff. He is an evangelist for true quality cleaning and is a contributor to and editor of True Quality Cleaning, RAVE FabriCARE’s blog. You can find Stu on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Comment on this Position Paper:

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Additional Resources:

http://ravefabricare.com/down-feathers-dust-mites-dubious-statistics/

http://ravefabricare.com/care-for-down-down-feather-bed-pillows/

http://ravefabricare.com/down-feather-bed-pillows-how-often-clean-them/

Sign up to receive our Position Papers:

Did you find this Position Paper informative? Subscribe today to receive our position papers delivered straight to your inbox. We'll never share your email. No spam. Unsubscribe whenever you want.

Sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter:

Get tips, ideas and information you can use. Subscribe today to receive our quarterly newsletter, the RAVEreview® delivered straight to your inbox. We'll never share your email. No spam. Unsubscribe whenever you want.

Looking for more great resources?

Check out our Resource Library for over 60 expert Ebooks, Position Papers (short discussions) and White Papers (longer in-depth discussions) spanning all aspects of caring for your fine garments, household textiles and accessories.

Connect with us:
America's True Quality Cleaner and Fabricare Specialist For Almost 30 Years