The short answer to how often you should wash/change your sheets is: It depends. On average, most experts recommend weekly washings.
You might be able to get away with washing your bedsheets once every two weeks if you don’t sleep in your bed every night. However, if any of the following 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 cold or the flu
- A pet sleeps in bed with you
Why You Should Wash Your Sheets Once A Week
If you’re not already washing your sheets weekly, now’s the time to start. Not only are you sleeping in your own dirt, sweat, body oils, and skin cells, but dust mites can also reside on your bed.
Dust mites are invisible to the naked eye, but if you do see some creepy crawlers in your bed, those are likely bed bugs, a whole other issue.
Dust mites don’t bite, but that doesn’t mean they’re harmless. They feed on your dead skin cells and are an allergen, which means their presence can cause symptoms1 like a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, cough, congestion, facial pressure, or a severe asthma attack.
Dust mites aren’t the only things lurking in your bedsheets. There are plenty of germs, too. If you’ve got something contagious like the cold or flu, you’re also spreading those germs around your bed.
Washing your sheets weekly helps reduce dust mites, germs, dirt, and more. The longer you go in between washings, the more these critters and germs have a chance to thrive.
The Best Way to Wash Your Bedsheets
The best way to wash your bedsheets 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 to iron your bedsheets. Again, this will help sanitize them without overly prolonging their exposure to heat.
Washing Blankets, Pillows, and Other Items
These items don’t need to be washed nearly as frequently because you’re not sleeping directly on them with skin-to-skin contact. Still, a lot of people overlook cleaning these items altogether.
Many people don’t even think about washing them, but pillows should be washed about once or twice per year. Cleaning pillows is a long and manual process, but it’s worth it. Thinking about the 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.
Generally, bath towels can be used up to three times2 before they need to be laundered. However, hand towels should be changed 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.
Lastly, the recommended frequency for washing your mattress protector is once every two months. You may need to clean your mattress pad or protector more frequently if someone has an accident or spill occurs, but, in general, you won’t need to watch this item nearly as often as sheets.
Get More Info: How To Properly Wash Your Pillows
How Often Should You Change Your Sheets?
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 ready to go. 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.
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. Once they become worn and frayed, or the elastic of the fitted sheet deteriorates, it’s time for them to go.
Some high-quality bedsheet brands can last 20 years or longer, while cheaper varieties may not last more than a year or two. Many people may also opt to buy new sheets when they plan to redecorate or move.
Get More Info: What to Look for When Buying Sheets
- “Dust mites”. American Lung Association. Last modified August 23, 2024.
- “DO I NEED TO WASH THIS?”. Cleaning Institute. Webpage accessed October 20, 2024.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.