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The short answer to how often should you wash/change your sheets is: It depends.
On average, most experts recommend weekly washings. You might be able to get away with washing your linens once every two weeks if you’re pressed for time, or you don’t sleep in your bed every night. However, if any of the following conditions apply to you, consider laundering your sheets at least once per week:
- You have dust or pollen allergies
- You or your partner sweat a lot
- You or your partner has a contagious illness
- A pet sleeps in bed with you
It can be a hassle to add extra loads of your laundry to your already busy schedule, but once you learn more about what happens when you don’t change your sheets often enough, you’ll likely be motivated to stick to a regular schedule.
What’s Under Your Covers?
Prepare to be grossed out.
Not only are you sleeping in your own dirt, sweat, body oils, and skin cells, but you’ve also got a colony of dust mites taking up residence on your bed rent-free.
These eight-legged creatures are invisible to the eye, so don’t even bother looking for them. If you do happen to see some creepy crawlers in your bed, those are most likely bedbugs, and that’s a whole other issue.
You’ll be relieved to know that dust mites don’t bite, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be worried. They feed on your dead skin cells, and a mattress could have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million of these critters using your bed as a toilet. In fact, by the time you’ve had a pillow for two years, up to 10 percent of its weight could be comprised of carcasses and their fecal matter. Are you grossed out yet?
Even though they don’t bite, they are considered an allergen, and their presence can cause symptoms like hay fever, eczema, asthma, coughing, and more.
Dust mites aren’t the only things lurking in your bed sheets. There are plenty of germs, too! If you’ve got something contagious like the cold or flu, you’re also spreading all those germs around your bed, too.
The Best Way to Wash Your Bedding
The best way to wash your bedding is in the hottest water the material can stand. The hot water will do a better job of killing any pathogens and critters. Ironically, many care labels will instruct you to wash the sheets in cooler water.
Before you toss your linens into the washer, check the label for any precautions and follow the instructions. If your linens can’t be washed in scalding water or placed on high heat in your dryer, then try hanging them out in the sun to dry. Sunlight is a natural antimicrobial agent, and it also kills mites.
Another trick is iron your bedsheets. Again, this will help sanitize them without overly prolonging their exposure to heat.
Blankets, Comforters, and Pillows
To be on the safe side, plan to wash your sheets once per week. To make the chore more manageable, have a second set of sheets on hand. That way, when it’s time to change the bed, you’ll have a clean set of linens waiting. Then you can wash two sets of bedding together the following week.
If you’ve been battling a contagious illness, make sure to change your bedding as soon as you’re better to prevent the risk of reinfection.
How Often Should You Change Your Sheets?
These items don’t need to be washed nearly as frequently because you’re not sleeping directly on them and making full-body skin-to-skin contact. Still, a lot of people overlook cleaning these items altogether.
Blankets and comforters should be washed about once per season. Between washings, you can toss them in the dryer on high (or hot) for between 10 to 15 minutes to eradicate any critters.
A lot of people never think about washing their pillows, but they should be laundered about once or twice per year. Cleaning pillows is a long and manual process, but it’s worth it! Thinking about the amount of waste products and insect debris collecting inside your pillow should be enough to inspire you to invest the time. Washing your pillows can also help re-fluff them and prolong their life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should towels be washed?
Again, the answer depends. If you’re the main laundry-doer in your household, you might be annoyed by spouses and children who treat your home like a hotel and expect clean towels after every shower. In reality, bath towels can be used up to three times before they need to be laundered.
Hand towels are a different story. They should be cleaned every other day, if not every single day. The reason is that they’re used frequently throughout the day, and people’s hands may not be entirely clean when they’re being wiped on the towel.
Why do clean sheets feel so good?
Sliding between crisp, clean sheets is one of the best feelings in the world. There’s something about being in a fresh environment that gives you peace of mind. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you walk into an organized room versus a cluttered space, but the effects are magnified because the sheets are also touching your skin, employing another one of your senses.
A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation shed further light on this theory. Up to 98% of people reported that being in a clean bedroom was important to sleep quality, and more than half of the respondents said that sheets with a fresh scent also mattered.
How often should you wash your mattress protector?
Once every two months is usually the recommended frequency. You may need to clean your pad or mattress protector more frequently if anyone has had an accident or a spill. But, in general, you won’t need to watch this item nearly as often as sheets.
How often do people buy new bed sheets??
The more often you wash your bedsheets and the more roughly you treat them, the more often they’ll need to be replaced. Quality will also play a role in the equation, too. Once they become worn and frayed, or the elastic of the fitted sheet deteriorates, it’s time for them to go.
Some high-quality brands can last twenty years or longer, while cheaper varieties may not last more than a year or two. If you ask the general population, most people will agree that the best time to buy new sheets is when they’re redoing the décor of the bedroom.
You’re busy. We get it. But, considering how many hours per day we spend in direct full-body contact with our sheets, we should probably make it a high priority to keep them clean. After all, we wash our clothes after wearing them for a single day (most of us do, anyway). So, washing our bedsheets on a weekly basis should be added to our list of must-do activities, too.
Author: Jill Thompson
I've been self-employed for almost four years and I would not change it for anything! I believe that anyone can achieve their goals with the right attitude and determination.
I'm an avid traveler (25+ countries and counting) that loves to meet new people doing amazing things.
When I'm not researching for the Sleep Advisor, you can find me reading, running, traveling, golfing, or meditating.
I wish you the very best on your journey!