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Beds And Bedding

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



For beds an elastic material is required, with a variation in its heat conducting powers according to the season of the year and the age of the individual. Thus the infant and the aged, in both of whom vitality is low require the slowest conductor that can be procured, especially in the winter season. For the middle-aged, on the other hand, the same material which is desirable for the first and last periods of life would be much too warm and relaxing. In the order of their conducting powers, the various materials for beds stand as follows, beginning with the warmest or slowest conductor : First, down; second, feat hers; third, wool; fourth, wool-flock; fifth, hair; sixth, cotton-flock; seventh, " excelsior"; eighth, sea moss; ninth, paper shavings; and tenth, straw. Hence it follows that the first two are peculiarly fitted for the very young and the old; while wool and hair, holding an intermediate position, are best adapted for healthy persons of middle age. -Where a particularly cool mattress is required, as for those who perspire freely, or for warm weather, the sea moss and paper shavings are the best materials, and as the latter can be obtained everywhere, a mattress made of it is often a very grateful addition to the furniture of a bed. Feathers and down were formerly almost universally employed for beds in this country, but their place is now largely supplied by wool and hair, which are sufficiently soft for comfort and not hot enough to promote perspiration. Wool mattresses are very healthy and pleasant to lie upon, though at first they feel rather hard and unyielding to those accustomed to feathers; by placing a spring mattress under them, they are rendered yielding enough for anyone. The best of all materials for beds, however, is hair. It is more healthful than feathers, more comfortable than any of the cheaper materials, and is equally serviceable in summer and win-ter. Mattresses of it can be made thick or otherwise, according as springs or other mat-tresses are used; and though expensive, the same hair can be made over several times, and so made to do many years' service. Straw mattresses are seldom used except for putting under hair or feather beds; where used for a top mattress, the straw is generally mixed with moss or cotton. For the cheaper kinds of beds the material called ,, excelsior " is superior to any other.

Springs add greatly to the comfort of a bed, and they can be had now in any style and at almost any price. Their cost is but little more than that of an under mattress, which can then be dispensed with. But the ,, spring mattress " should never be used; it almost inevitably becomes the harbor of bedbugs and other vermin which cannot be got at without destroying the mattress. The woven-wire mattress," a recent invention, is probably the most perfect apparatus of the kind ever devised, and though expensive, will stand many years of ordinary use. The only objection to it we have heard is that when used long by heavy people it is liable to " sag."

Pillows are seldom made of any other material than feathers, though hair, sponge, or chipped cork is occasionally used. Feather pillows should never be stuffed very full, as this gives them a hardness and inelasticity which is peculiarly disagreeable and also injurious. In buying them it is best to choose the feathers first and have them made up to suit; select goose or chicken feathers of the softest and most downy kind. Hair pillows are cooler than feather, though not so soft and yielding. They are recommended for per-sons with a tendency to fullness in the head, and for all young children. it is necessary to make them lower than those made of feathers. An excellent pillow for invalids or feeble per-sons is sold at the drug stores in the shape of an india-rubber sack, which can be inflated with air to any desired degree of flexibility.

Sheets were formerly almost universally made of linen, but experience has proved that cotton is much better. Linen in any shape, when brought into contact with the skin, con-ducts away the heat of the body very rapidly. In winter in our climate linen sheets are scarcely endurable on account of their coldness; and, being comparatively impervious to air, and therefore confining perspiration, are inferior at all times to cotton. The best material for sheets is ,, Russian sheeting "; it will last twice as long as any other, and though yellow at first, will soon bleach. It is a mistake to make sheets exactly to fit the bed. They should be about a yard larger each way than the bed.

Pillow Cases of linen are very pleasant to the head, and may be appropriately used with cotton sheets. They are a luxury at best, however, rumpling easily and requiring more frequent change than cleanliness alone would call for. A popular method of arrangement is to make the pillow cases of cotton and cover the pillows during the day, while they are not in use, with linen "shams " simple squares of linen which may be tastefully ornamented.



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