A warm welcome for bed bugs
More than one in ten Brits (13 per cent) sleep in bedding that has not been washed for over a month, while a quarter (27 per cent) sleep on mattresses that are more than ten years old, according to new research.
The annual Bed Bug Audit, conducted by Sheilas' Wheels home insurance, found that 29 per cent of Brits have cut back on washing their bedding due to lack of time while 17 per cent delay washing their dirty laundry to cut costs. Men are the worst culprits, with 1.7 million waiting over a month before washing their bed linen.
With forecasters predicting erratic temperatures this winter which could reach -15 degrees Celsius by Christmas, British bedrooms could become the perfect breeding ground for bed bugs, which take refuge in the warmth of mattresses, pillows and sheets to feed. To add to the cosy conditions, over half of Brits (56 per cent) said they will use extra blankets to keep warm this winter, while 31 per cent will opt for a hot water bottle.
Almost a fifth of Brits surveyed (19 per cent) said they were more likely now than last year to buy second hand furniture, which is a leading source of infestation as a pre-owned mattress alone can contain up to 10 million bed bugs.
Some 16 per cent of British men put in an average of 30 days sheet use before washing their bedding while four per cent admitted to not washing their bedding in over two months. Nine per cent of men confessed that they did not think washing the bed was important with over a third (35 per cent) confessing they put off washing due to sheer laziness.
This is all the more worrying as bed bugs are not the only ones enjoying a bite in bed - 46 per cent of Brits said that they had eaten a meal in bed. Nine per cent admit they regularly eat breakfast in bed, while one in ten (ten per cent) even said that they eat their evening meal there.
The Bed Bug Audit also revealed that 26 per cent of Brits polled had no idea how bed bugs spread and a quarter (25 per cent) said they were unaware of any measures to counter them, such as leaving sheets exposed during the day or regularly vacuuming all areas of the room - including the seams of the mattress.
Jacky Brown at Sheilas' Wheels home insurance comments: "We spend so much time in our beds that it is astounding so many Brits and particularly bug busting men - do not keep them clean. Simple measures like avoiding eating in bed, leaving the sheets exposed during the day and washing them regularly can help avoid an infestation
"Bed bugs in the home can be an extremely unpleasant experience so it is important that homeowners have a way to deal quickly with an infestation such as our pest cover otherwise the upcoming cold spell could provide a nasty wake-up call."