Last Updated on 15/06/2022
Pollen season is kicking in and hoovering this morning reminded me why under bed storage is bad. Although only a few days had passed since my last cleaning, there were pollinated dust bunnies galore under the bed. If I had been storing anything under there, it would have been even worse.
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I’ve got a beef with under bed storage. I’ve never used the space under my bed to store anything, not even in my tiniest of bedsit flats.
There are three good reasons why it’s not a good idea to keep stuff stored under the bed. Using under bed storage prevents the flow of air your mattress needs. In the practice of feng shui, it’s also considered to be disruptive to a good night’s sleep. Finally, storing things under the bed makes it hard to keep everything clean.
Your Mattress Needs Air Circulation
Mattresses need to be able to breathe. The human body loses a good amount of moisture overnight, as well as natural oils. Beyond normal amounts of perspiration during sleep, night sweats can, according to the NHS, also occur if you’re taking medication, have been drinking, are going through menopause, have low blood sugar, or hyperhidrosis.
A lot of that “steam” your body lets off during the night gets trapped in the mattress. This is where air flow comes in. It’s also why, aside from Japanese tatami mats, mattresses should not be on the floor either (they get mouldy!). You want that moisture to be able to escape the mattress, and that means allowing the air to freely circulate. It can’t do that though if you’re using under bed storage.
If you’re sleeping on top of bins of Christmas decorations, photo albums your deceased Uncle Alfred left you, a pile of winter boots and coats, or your tax return archive from 2014, it’s a no-brainer that air is not freely circulating under your bed the way it should be. If you have an excess of stuff down there, you might want to clear everything out from under the bed. Doing so will provide the mattress the aeration it needs to dry out everyday and allow moisture to better dissipate.
Another advantage to not using under bed storage is that the mattress will be less prone to mildew formation because it has better air flow. You’ll be able to make the most of its lifespan because there won’t be mould and fungi eating at it from within. And if you have allergies or respiratory issues, you’ll particularly want to avoid sleeping on top of mildew and bacteria.
Under Bed Storage Gives Off a Bad Vibe
Ever heard of the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui? Feng shui literally means “wind-water,” two elements associated with good health in China, and it is practiced to create a balanced physical environment conducive to the flow of energy. This is turn is said to bring good fortune. In alignment with a Daoist understanding of nature, energy, or “qi,” is everywhere and in everyone. It’s thus also in your own home, and it’s in your bedroom.
Feng shui, simply put, is how you interact with your environment; it allows you better balance qi to achieve harmony and improvements in life. Architects and interior designers alike employ feng shui to ensure harmony and a positive flow of energy. Even Disneyland architects have relied on feng shui.
Using under bed storage creates a bad vibe in the bedroom. The traditional feng shui approach would be to have absolutely nothing under your bed so that energy, “qi,” can freely flow. If you have clutter beneath the bed, your qi gets stuck because the flow of positive energy in the bedroom is blocked. Who needs bad juju, amiright?
In addition, storage under the bed can disrupt your sleep, and not just according to feng shui principles. A 2015 study at St. Lawrence University found that cluttered bedrooms contribute to poorer quality of sleep. From the qi perspective though, negative energy and bad vibes might be trapped under your bed based on what you’re actually storing there. Keepsakes and boxes of old letters and photos can keep you stuck in the past, preventing you from moving forward. Self-protection items like guns or baseball bats give off a masculine yang energy that can cause you to toss and turn. Books and paperwork keep your mind in overdrive when it should be resting.
Interior designers versed in feng shui seem to agree it’s best to keep the entire space under the bed empty. If that is absolutely not possible, the only thing that should ever be put under the bed are the items which correlate to the bed: bedding and bed linens.
Things Stored Under the Bed Are Hard to Keep Clean
Whether you believe in feng shui principles or not, there is another good reason for keeping the space underneath your bed completely clear: it’s darn hard to keep clean. Unless everything is pulled out and wiped down every few days, it gets pretty nasty under the bed. You don’t want to be sleeping on a dust mite playground. Yet if you have stuff underneath your bed, you are.
Even if you’re using lidded or zipped under bed storage organisers, those things get dusty faster than you can say bunny. Bedrooms generally have a higher dust density due to their particular dust contributors. Hair, fibres from bedding and blankets, dander from pets, human dandruff and skin flakes are the culprits. You may be the epitome of hygiene, but your largest organ—your skin— is still shedding millions of skin flakes daily and a heck of a lot of those are in your bedroom. Guess who literally feeds on all of this stuff? Dust mites. If you’re sleeping on top of stacks of under bed bins, there’s a ton of dust accumulating on their surface in direct proximity to the bottom of your mattress. That’s both a jumping board to the dust mite romping ground of mattress, and it’s an additional breeding ground if not kept clean.
If you have allergies, you probably have one more vital reason to keep the space underneath the bed clear of clutter. Dust likes to collect on the floor and on surfaces, and because there’s no traffic under the bed, it just lingers there. Inhaling these dust particles while sleeping can trigger an allergic reaction. There’s no way to dust-proof any room of course, but there are some very easy measures you can take to keep dust in check in the bedroom and under the bed.
How to Keep Clean Under the Bed
- Clear everything out from underneath the bed and find a new place for it.
- Open the windows daily! Air out the bedroom for at least 15 minutes after you wake up. Even in the winter. Throw back the sheets and blankets on the bed so the moisture in your mattress can evaporate, too.
- Carpeting or rugs underneath the bed are big dust magnets which should be regularly hoovered.
- Hoover and wet-mop hardwood, tiled, or linoleum flooring once weekly. If you find it hard to wet-mop under the bed, there are robot mops that can do the job for you!
- Change your bedding regularly. If you share your bed or if you have night sweats, you’ll want to do this at least once weekly.
- If you suffer from dust mite allergies, it’s a good idea to wet-dust everything in your bedroom once weekly. For in-between tidy-ups when I’m in a rush, I reach for wet dust wipes, which bind the dust and have an anti-static effect that makes it hard for new dust to settle. (Just don’t flush them down the toilet. They can clog the mains and some of them are not completely biodegradable!)
- Bonus tip: if you like the look of a bed skirt, they are actually helpful in keeping dust at bay. Just be sure to toss them in the washer when you change your bed linens.
Alternatives to Under Bed Storage
So then what are your options for storage if you live in a tiny place and have decided to keep the space under the bed free? Where do you put those holiday decorations and out-of-season garments, gift wrapping paper, and empty suitcases? Easy: the cellar.
I keep anything used infrequently in the basement, with the exception of clothing items. Even when I was a frequent traveller going on trips multiple times a month (oh the nostalgia of pre-pandemic times), I kept my suitcases in the cellar. If you live in a house, you could also re-route the clutter under your bed to the garage or attic. If you don’t have a cellar and live in a flat, you could store seldom used items on top of the wardrobe or out of the way on the top shelf of a closet. You can even store things nested inside of other things (think matrjoschka dolls).
For clothing, which I personally don’t separate by season, my mantra is: if a garment doesn’t fit in the closet, either I can’t keep it or something’s gotta go so it has room. Closets are for storing clothing, after all.
Which camp do you belong to? Do you store things under the bed or prefer to keep that space clear? Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree!