No cushion for this disgusting science

No trauma here, but wait until the dog’s parent learns what’s in that pillow and pillowcase.

No trauma here, but wait until the dog’s parent learns what’s in that pillow and pillowcase.

Published Jul 7, 2024


Graphic content warning: if you’re a germaphobe or insomniac, read no further. Also, if you’re having a lazy Saturday lie-in with toast and coffee in bed, rather read this later.

Once you’ve read it, you won’t be able to unread it and you’ll be traumatised and all grossed out.

There’s no cushioning the effect of this report.

The couch scientific research council has many valuable, highly respected – and some downright dodgy – sources. Topics vary wildly and are often stumbled upon while doing a news editor’s day job: keeping up to date, informed and sometimes entertained so our pages can do the same for you.

This wide-ranging trawling frequently raises an all-important question: so what? If it wouldn’t matter to you, it doesn’t interest us. But we also love sharing warm, lighthearted stories with no “so what?”. It’s a way to make everyone feel a bit better and remove you, for however short a time, from the turmoil, angst and burdens of everyday life.

This one, however, may add angst and turmoil. It did on the couch.

As much as the couch scientific research council is fascinated by science, this result demonstrated that it can be pretty disgusting.

We know research costs big money, which has to come from somewhere. That’s the trick when you’re trying to validate the worth of a study: keep your eye on the money. See who paid for it and whether the result could be skewed to benefit “investors”. Except us: our research doesn’t pay at all so you can trust us totally.

That’s all the disclaimers done and, err, dusted.

We found this in a Time magazine report:

“If you wake up congested or with a post-nasal drip, it could be due to allergens in your pillow. One study (our note: done by Ohio State University) found that 10% of a two-year-old pillow’s weight is due to dust mites and their excrement. Pillows can also contain dead skin, mould, and pet dander.”

Oh sh*t. Seriously? It prompted an instant shopping spree (well, two pillows really). Not only because our pillows are very many years old because they’re comfy and punchable and squishable to fit properly, but also because various dogs spend a lot of time on them too.

There is always the “solution” of changing pillowcases more regularly, and we do. But it’s about to become a daily exercise because the Time report also said: “You should also wash your pillowcases at least once a week. One study (our note: yes, done by a US bedding company) found pillowcases that hadn’t been cleaned in a week contained 17 000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. This bacteria can be particularly rampant if you drool, sleep with make-up on, or sweat a lot.” Or share with hounds who definitely drool while they cuddle up to a sweaty human for a double dose of disgusting.

A toilet seat?! Man, who even thinks to test that for a comparison?

The only reason the article caught the couch scientific research council’s attention was because it explained the importance of having the correct pillow arrangement. One expert pointed out that humans thought very carefully about mattresses but neglected the Very Important Pillow question and ended up with a variety of respiratory, skeletal and fatigue problems as a result.

It quoted sleep experts and neurologists and human movement boffs and links to the various studies. Doing due diligence, we checked (most) of them and only found one with a bedding company connection.

We gave up tracking the money and spent some on new pillows, so someone scored.

Now we just have to pummel them into shape and try to get over being utterly grossed out.

Independent on Saturday