The Repulsive Reason You Should Always Wash Your Pillowcases

Photographed by Rochelle Brock.
There are plenty of obvious reasons why a person might want to make a habit of washing their pillowcases on a regular basis: Sleeping on the oils from your hair and skin night after night can result in breakouts and clogged pores, for starters, and recent research found that, after just two years of use, one-third of the weight of your pillow contains dead skin, bugs, dust mites, and droppings. Droppings. (Plus, who would ever want to be caught dead sleeping on a yellowing pillowcase by a friend or potential suitor?)
But if, once you get over how repulsive it is overall, you still think that a nasty breakout is the worst thing that can happen, think again. Dirty pillowcases are also a legitimate health hazard, a breeding ground for bacteria and assorted waste — and, in the case of one Chinese woman, eyelashes that are crawling with hundreds of mites.
The Sun reports that the woman, known only by the name Xu, had simply become accustomed to the itchy, uncomfortable feeling around her eye area since it first began two years ago; she'd been attempting to treat the symptoms using over-the-counter eye drops. But earlier this month, after her eyelids became so swollen and irritated that she couldn't open her eyes, Xu was taken to the hospital, where she confessed to doctors that she'd been using the same pillowcase since 2012, nearly six years ago. They found — and removed — over 100 mites living in her eyelashes, with one single eyelash holding as many as 10.
Xu's official diagnosis was blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid) and conjunctivitis, for which she was prescribed medication, but doctors also sent her home with a single, practical objective: to wash her bedding regularly. While the human body already plays host to trillions of microorganisms, including mites, fungi, and bacteria, keeping your pillowcases and other bedding clean (and practicing good hygiene) will help prevent them from proliferating. Yes, you and your mites can live in perfect harmony — just don't make your bedroom so hospitable that they decide to invite all their friends and stay awhile.
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