It’s Sunday and you’re in bed. Kentucky lost again and there’s an Australian man marching by your dorm window, sign strung around his shoulders with shoelaces: “Will Kick for Money.”
Beside your bed is the leftover Styrofoam box containing two chicken fingers and the butt-end of a Texas Toast slice and a pile of fries. You take the lump of bread in a bite, one clean sweep. After a sip of room-temperature Fanta, you tuck into the rest of the Caniac you swore you’d demolish when you forced your girlfriend to wait in line for thirty minutes until they roared the fake name you gave them — “Spider-Man” — which earned some laughs and hollers from the boys in the booth at the back, but didn’t impress her for the seventh time this semester.
Buttery flakes peel off the tenders onto the cotton sheets you watched your mom snap onto your mattress nearly two months ago. Salt rains onto your pillowcase from the clump of crinkled fries clasped in your hand. You sweep away the smattering of sodium with the same hand, leaving behind a shiny lick of grease.
You hear your mother telling you about washing your sheets regularly, that bed bugs are no joke.
Your bed should be a tranquil and undisturbed retreat, but with the hangover beginning to bang between your eyes like a musical monkey toy, it feels more like a grave you’re ready to roll over and die in than catch a full eight hours. Unknown to you are the millions of dead skins cells accompanying the littering of fast food that’s caked into your sheets — paradise for dust mites and bed bugs who find the them tasty.
GoodHouseKeeping.com recommends you wash your bedsheets at least once every two weeks at 140 degrees or above, including the raggedy stuffed bunny rabbit you decided not to part with when you left for college. Pillows and duvets should be washed twice a year. Yet there’s an upside. Experts say you should not make your bed in the morning: “We sweat while we sleep and a neatly rearranged duvet can trap moisture and warmth inside your bed, making your bed irresistible to dust mites.”
You struggle to keep up with laundry as it is, I get it. Chalky cut-offs you’ve sweated it out in at the JC achieving your deadlift personal best, dress shirts and khakis you launder weekly lest you get labelled a GDI on your way to your 8 a.m. lecture and your gameday polos that seem to always need a second spin in the washing machine to get the smell of booze out. But ignoring your bed sheets could be costly down the line, causing you to snuggle up to unwanted visitors who find the mold, skin cells and leftover food in your bed a cozy dwelling. You don’t want to wake up, pink bites raised around your body like you’ve tattooed the map of the world on your chest. Those are some hickeys you can do without.
The On Campus column appears weekly. Read last week's column here.