How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets: Actionable Guide
How often should bed sheets be washed? According to the National Sleep Foundation survey, over 90% of Americans change their sheets around once a week. But is it enough only to remove and put them into the hamper to wash them when it gets full of other stuff? Surely not!
The importance of regular bedroom hygiene routines is very high as the frequency of washing ups, and other cleaning routines can affect the quality of your sleep and cause (or prevent) a variety of skin problems that may require lengthy medical treatment. We don’t want it to happen, do we?
Americal College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology reports that over 25 million Americans suffer from allergies, but even if you’re not one of them, you may start sneezing or even face a stuffy nose, contact dermatitis, pore blockages, and other issues if your bedding isn’t clean enough.
I this blog post, I share everything I learned upon the topic during my therapeutic practice and sleep studies. Besides, I refer to other experts and institutions in the field to cover the topic more fully. After reading, you’ll be able to make your sleep-related routines healthier and willfully avoid any potential problems in the future.
How Often Should You Change Your Sheets
Our bodies sweat. Many of us drool every night. Our skin sheds dead cells. These are the basic reasons for you to start changing your bedding regularly. But when should you change bed sheets?
Some people think that they should change bedsheets as soon as they get visibly dirty or smelly. Well, if you think of your bed like it’s a table that needs to be wiped when you see the dust on its surface, you’re not right.
Our bed can accumulate thousands of microscopic particles from our bodies. It’s just impossible to see them with a naked eye unless your bed is too dirty, and you start seeing layers of dust and stains of sweat on the linen. You definitely should avoid such a situation.
The best frequency for changing your bed linen is 7 days. This number is recommended by most experts in the field, not without reason. Within this period, your linen cannot accumulate enough dust, dead cells, and sweat to attract dust mites and other unwanted dwellers. For people who have tender skin exposed to acne and irritation, a 7-day period can help to avoid the active spreading of acne and irritation.
I also cannot neglect those who recommend changing bed linen once per 2 weeks. Such an approach also has the right to be applied, but it’s not good enough for everyone. You should be sure that you can keep your bed fresh enough for 14 days in a row.
To be able to do so, you have not only to follow my recommendations but also have no issues with sweating, no acne, or other skin problems. Your bed should be fresh 24/7, so weekly changing is the best way to achieve it.
How Often Should Bedsheets be Changed in Summer
In the summertime, the temperature outside is usually much hotter, which means that our bodies sweat more to adjust to the environment. Even if you shower before going to bed, you are likely to sweat more during the night as your body will keep sweating to release the rest of the heat energy accumulated during the day.
Fortunately, every modern house has an air conditioner so that you can cool your bedroom down and reduce nighttime sweating to a minimum.
Although we sweat a bit more anyway, there’s no real reason to change your bedding more than once a week. I also recommend you to be attentive to your body signals and senses. If you feel that your bedsheets aren’t fresh enough, or they even get wet because of your sweat, you definitely have to change bedding more often.
Still, you don’t have to turn it into a cult and feel anxious. You’re not likely to have any problems even if you sweat a lot. If you don’t have any problems with oversweating in the summer, you can stick to your average bedroom schedule.
What is Hidden Under Our Bedding
If you are reading the article during lunch, keep this paragraph for a cup of coffee, as it’s not very appetizing. First of all, our bedding is a powerful accumulator of dead skin cells. We usually spend 6 to 10 hours per day on our beds. Our bodies shed around 40,000 dead skin cells EVERY day.
After simple calculations, you can assume that your bed gets around 4,000 – 7,000 cells per night, and around 28,000 – 49,000 cells per week. The calculations are based on the data by the American Academy of Dermatology, so there are no reasons to disbelieve.
Such an impressive amount of skin-produced dust can cause minor pore blockages and pimples or irritation on tender skin areas.
Dead skin cells are also a delicious meal for dust mites. It’s impossible to see these minute insects with a naked eye even if there are thousands of them on your bed. Unfortunately, they can see you very well and think that you are a buffet from heaven.
Dust mites can cause severe allergy, skin irritation, rashes, and also bite you. It’s quite hard to get rid of them as they can get deep into your pillows and mattress, so keeping your place clean is necessary.
Next, your sheets accumulate a substantial amount of sweat from your body, especially if your bedroom is too hot. Besides, your skin produces oils and drool, and various fluids during sexual acts. In fact, you have to change and wash bedding every time you make love with your partner.
Professor of microbiology and immunology at The Medical University of South Carolina Michael Schmidt also says that people who sleep naked also add fecal matter to the mix I described above. Sleeping on bedding that hasn’t been changed for a week or two is literally an act of bathing in a cesspool full of microscopic garbage.
If you have a pet that enjoys sleeping in your bed too, add its hair, saliva, and fecal matter to the mix too.
The Best Way to Wash Your Bedding
Now, let’s figure out how to wash your bedding properly. You have to train yourself to follow a schedule regularly and do all the routines between the washings to keep your linen fresh as long as possible. Your skin will thank you.
How often should bedding be washed
The general rule is simple – you have to wash your sheets at least once a week. It’s a must-follow rule for every household. But what is this rule based on?
Well, it’s rather simple for most people to change and throw their bedding into the washing machine. Besides, 7 days is usually not enough for your bed to build up a critical level of contamination.
Nevertheless, 7 days is a general period that can vary depending on your lifestyle, time of the year, and other factors that you already know from the previous paragraphs. To make things easier, ask yourself several questions that I prepared:
1. Do you wear pajamas?
If yes, the number of dead cells on your sheets is around 50% smaller as your pajamas accumulate them instead. Wash them at least every 3 days!
2. Are you “active” during the night?
If you move a lot when you sleep, you’re likely to shed more skin and vice versa.
3. Do your pets sleep in your bed?
It’s a true call for washing your sheets more than once a week.
4. Do you drool on your pillow?
It’s not something that you have to treat, but it’s a sign that you should wash your pillowcases a bit more often.
5. Do you wash up before going to bed?
You can avoid it if you’re too tired, but it’s also an easy way to contaminate your bedding much faster, especially if it’s hot outside, and you exercised in the gym or jogged aftrer work.
6. Do you have any skin issues?
You should understand that various skin issues can make your skin shed dead cells faster, sweat more, and even matter. I recommend you wear a new pajama every day to avoid washing your bedding every 2-3 days. This will also help you to prevent your issue from progressing faster.
Your pillows and comforters don’t really need to be washed so frequently. While the pillowcases and duvet covers must be washed at least once a week, you should treat your pillows and comforters around once in three months.
If you can remove the inner part of a pillow and comforter, you should wash the covers in a washing machine every 3 weeks. However, some materials, such as feathers, require dry washing or chemical washing, so learn your product unique instruction first.
It’s recommended to wash the filler one time per 3 months. That is only 4 times per year, and you can call a professional to do it for you.
The blanket that you use to cover the bed in the morning should be cleaned at least once per month as it accumulated dust and can become a hotbed for dust mites. A washing machine treatment would be more than enough.
There’s also a common rule about duvet and pillow replacement. It says that you should replace your pillows every 2-3 years. It’s also important to use protecting cases in addition to pillowcases and duvet cases. It will keep dust and mites away from the filler a bit longer.
As for duvets, you can keep using them for around 15-20 years, but you should dry clean or wash them at least 2-3 times per year to avoid dust mites.
A 2005 study by the Wythenshawe Hospital and the University of Manchester showed that synthetic and feather pillow fillers are a primary source of fungi. They can be found in fillers from 1.5 to 20 years old.
Even though they’re not always dangerous, some can cause localized, opportunistic, and primary fungal infections. The most common expressions of these infections are candida, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush. Fungal infections don’t spread deeper into the body, but they can be very difficult to get rid of.
How to Keep Sheets Clean Between Washings
Now that you know how often to clean bed sheets, you should also learn how to keep them clean longer between washings. If you have multiple sets of linens (I recommend you to have at least 3 sets for one bed), you have to keep them away from dust and moisture to have a clean set when it’s time for a change.
One of the best ways is to keep them in a closed drawer that’s not exposed to dust settling. Keeping them on a shelf in your wardrobe isn’t the best idea as you open it more frequently and hang your clothes nearby, which is a bit dangerous as your clothes may have so much invisible dirt, mites, fleas, and other unwanted things on it!
Some readers ask me if it’s a good idea to put clean sets into plastic bags. It’s definitely a bad idea as plastic doesn’t let your sheets breathe in the drawer. If the air in the room is moist, the chances are high that it will have an unpleasant smell when you take it out after a week or so. You can use thin breathable cotton sacks, but it’s not needed unless your drawer is exposed to dust.
To keep sheats clean on the bed, you have to make the bed every morning to keep the dust away. Cover the sheet and pillows with a comforter and then cover the entire bed with a banket to keep the dust away. You probably already do it, but I want the piece to be as comprehensive as possible.
Another thing you can do to remove dead skin, hair, crumbles, and other particles is to quickly clean up the sheets with a sticky roller. Believe me, you will be surprised by the amount of stuff on the tape!
You can also train yourself to do other routines to prevent your bedding from getting dirty too fast. Here is the list to remember:
- Shower right before going to bed – this way, you will get rid of a large number of dead cells and sweat that you’ve produced during the day. It’s also a good way to make your skin healthier. Clean pores breathe better, so it’s an investment into better nighttime thermoregulation and skin issues prevention.
- Train your pets to keep off the bed – I don’t insist on that as I’m a pet lover, and I cannot resist sleeping together with my fluffy cat, but it’s an effective way to keep your bed cleaner by the end of the week.
- Don’t sleep after exercising – even a mild 10-minute jogging session will make you sweat a bit. You should take a shower right after you finish exercising and avoid naps without cleaning up yourself beforehand.
- Don’t eat in bed – we all do it sometimes, but we really shouldn’t. Crumbles and spilled drinks aren’t good for our skin at all.
- Put off your socks – no matter how clean your house is, your socks will definitely be the dirtiest thing in the entire house. Don’t get into bed wearing socks, boots, slippers, etc.
- Wear slippers – it’s a good idea to wear slippers when you walk around the house as they will prevent your feet from accumulating dust and debris.
Let’s Learn the Answers
Here I answer some of the most frequently asked questions of my readers and followers in social networks. I hope they will clarify everything to you if you still have questions on the topic.
How often should you wash your towel?
The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) recommends washing your bath towels after every 3 uses. The institute insists that it’s the only way to keep your towels germ-free and avoid skin irritations.
It’s also highly important to air dry towels between every use to prevent the germs from breeding. Doing the laundry may be a bit too often for many of us, so you have to purchase several sets of towels to have a fresh one when you don’t have enough time for laundry routines. By the way, you have to air dry and toss your washcloth into the washing machine after EVERY use.
How often does the average person change their sheets?
According to the results of the polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 91% of Americans change their bed linen weekly, while the majority of the remaining 9% do it at least one time per 2 weeks.
Due to such a positive behavior of average citizens, the cases of infestations and the number of people who suffer from skin issues have reduced significantly over the last 50 years.
What happens if you don’t wash your sheets?
If you stop washing your sheets, they will accumulate your body oils and soils, becoming dirtier every week. After a month or two, your bedding will become too dirty for an average washing machine, and you will have to toss it or apply the heavy dry wash.
If you don’t wash your sheets for too long, you will also start facing skin issues, such as eczema, acne, comedo, and more. Your mattress, pillows, and duvet will also start soaking up filth and become a great feeding for dust mites and fungi. As a result, you will probably have mite bites all over your body, and one of the numerous fungal infections.
Can you get bed bugs from not washing your sheets?
In fact, bed bugs are quite rare our days. Besides, dirty beddings don’t really cause infestations. You’re more likely to get dust mites and fungi if you don’t wash your linen often enough. Professor Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, claims that bed bugs won’t appear just because you don’t change your linen, and I totally agree with him.
On the other hand, I disagree that your dirty bed cannot be a habitat for dangerous bacteria and lead to skin problems as it’s a widely spread problem. During years of therapeutic practice, I’ve had many patients who didn’t know how to treat their bedrooms right and had skin issues because of that.
How often should you wash your mattress protector?
The recommended frequency is every 2 months. Still, you can do it earlier on can you spill something on your bed, or your pets are allowed to spend time in your bed. If you treat your mattress protector right, it will extend the longevity of your mattress. I also recommend dry washing it at least 2 times a year to avoid dust mite infestations and fungi.
How often do people buy new bed sheets?
According to the National Sleep Foundation poll, most Americans throw away their sheets after 2 years of active usage. If you’re attentive enough, you may have already noticed that after 2 years of washing, your sheets may have small holes and areas that look thinner than they used to be.
However, not all linen sets warn out in 2 years. Sometimes, they still look good in 3-4 years, and you can keep using them. Nevertheless, I recommend you to dry clean them at least once a year to get rid of contaminations that cannot be removed in an average washing machine.
How often to change bed sheets in summer and winter?
In fact, the difference isn’t very big or can be absent at all. The perfect bed changing-cycle always depends on the same factors, and you can change it by adjusting your bedroom conditions. If you are able to reach the best temperature inside the room during both cold and hot seasons, you’re not likely to sweat more or shed more dead cells.
If you cannot keep the same comfortable temperature during the year and you sweat a lot in summer, you have to change your linen at least once a week. If you don’t feel fresh after 3-4 days, feel free to change your sheets earlier.
If you follow all the recommendations that I give above, you can even prolonge the freshness of your sheets up to 14 days. However, it will require consistency and good air conditioning.
How often should you wash your bedding?
There are 3 right answers to this question.
- First – the best bed-changing cycle is 7 days. It’s not enough for your linen to get dirty and definitely not enough for mites and other unwanted guests to come. It’s also quite comfortable to do the washing up every weekend.
- Second – you can change your bed linen every 2 weeks provided you don’t have problems with sweating, skin issues, and you follow my recommendations on how to keep your bedsheets fresh between washings.
- Third – you should be attentive to your body signals and always check whether your bedsheets are still clean or not. Of course, it’s impossible to see the microscopic stuff, so I don’t recommend you to go beyond the 14-day cycle.
Your perfect cycle can be anywhere between 7 and 14 days, depending on your and your partner’s amount of secretion, sexual behavior, drooling, and other factors.
Regularity is Important
If washing and changing bed linens was a simple weekly routine for you, now you can declare yourself an expert on the topic. You probably won’t forget how often should you wash your sheets, but I recommend you make a quick note and summarize all the most important points of the article anyway.
Use it to develop a healthy washing schedule for your entire household. This will help you to avoid all potential health problems, such as eczema, contact dermatitis, and others.
Have you ever faced skin problems caused by hygiene failures? Or maybe you already have perfect linen washing habits? I’d be happy to see your answers in the comments section of the article.
You can also use it to ask me questions and to chat with other readers upon the topic. I’ll do my best to answer as soon as possible. If you want to know more about healthy sleeping, explore my blog, and sign up for updates. Keep safe!