On average, we need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. That’s why our beds, pillows, sheets, and blankets should provide both optimal hygiene and comfort so we can rest well. Overall, they can either help us maintain good health or compromise it.
If you spend eight hours sleeping, various germs, body oils, and dead skin cells build up in the materials. Even if the sheets seem clean, these small particles can affect your skin or cause minor health problems.
So, what does it come down to – how often should you wash your sheets? Ideally, most people should wash them once a week. In this article, we’ll explore why you should wash your sheets that often. We’ll also explain who should go the extra mile with their bed linens and we’ll offer useful tips on how to wash them properly.
Is Once a Week Enough?
Washing your sheets once a week shouldn’t be done just because they’ll smell nicer and help you fall asleep faster. Even if you can’t see them, germs, allergens, pollen, dust mites, bacteria, fungi, and pet dander can cause eczema and contact dermatitis or intensify your allergies.
Additionally, more than three million people in Canada suffer from asthma, and their symptoms can worsen if the bed sheets they sleep in are not regularly washed. But even if you don’t belong to this group and don’t have any allergies, sleeping in dirty sheets for more than a week can cause sneezing and a stuffy nose.
While germs or dead skin cells residing in your sheets can’t seriously harm you, dirty sheets could be a vessel for contracting and transmitting various infections. This can, in fact, affect your health and well-being. By washing your sheets regularly, you kill all the pathogens responsible for causing infections, which is something you should keep in mind if you share your bed with another person.
For people who don’t sleep in their own bed every night, this once-a-week recommendation can be stretched to washing your sheets once every two weeks, depending on how often you sleep at home.
Who Should Wash Their Sheets More Often?
The routine of washing your sheets every week may sound excessive to some, but there are people who might want to clean them even more often. The following groups of people should take extra care of their sheets:
People Who Sweat Excessively
While sleeping, our body sweats and produces sebum and salt that are absorbed by our sheets. Human sweat has a lot of yeast and bacteria, and people who sweat excessively need to be mindful of the amount of this material that sticks to our pillows, sheets and bedding as it can cause ringworm infection and folliculitis.
If you’re sleeping hot and sweat more than the average person, you should wash your sheets twice a week to avoid any of the mentioned conditions. It would also be great if you could take a shower every night before you go to bed as this will prolong the freshness of your sheets.
You don’t need anyone to tell you that eating in bed is not the greatest idea. This highly unhygienic habit can quickly invite nasty guests to your bed, such as flies, ants, and cockroaches. Getting rid of them could turn into a nightmare. Besides, midnight snacks will inevitably leave your bedding and sheets stained.
If you’re bedridden and the only option you have is to eat in bed, make sure to have your sheets washed twice a week.
Those Who Sleep With Pets
Your loved furry companion can be a great support, and you might want to sleep with them so you can bond, but this habit can cause several issues. Just like some humans, dogs are known for drooling, which can leave stains all over your bed, including the sheets.
Dander, dead skin cells, and dirt from your pets can cause skin irritations and bacterial infections, so make sure to wash the sheets every few days. There’s also a risk that your bed might get infested with ticks and fleas, forcing you to replace all your bedding.
If you want to avoid frequent washing of your sheets, it would be wisest if you could get a nice snug bed for your favourite pet and place it somewhere in your bedroom.
People With Severe Allergies or Asthma
If you suffer from allergies or asthma, you’ll want to wash your sheets more frequently. This may soothe your symptoms and help you sleep better. You should wash them once or twice a week and see if your condition improves.
By washing your sheets, you’re removing the pollen, dust and dander that are the main culprits for worsening your allergies and sometimes even asthma.
Individuals With Lesions on Their Bodies
People who have an infection or a lesion somewhere on their bodies should carefully treat this condition to avoid the risk of reinfection once they start recovering. Infections and lesions sometimes produce discharge that can stay on your sheets, pillows, and covers, which means that you have to wash them as soon as they’re spotty and replace them when you’ve noticed improvements.
This is important for several reasons. If you don’t wash the contaminated sheets and other bedding, you can transmit the infection to someone who sleeps in the same bed after you. The best strategy would be to avoid sharing your bed with anyone until you’re healthy again.
How To Wash Your Sheets
Now that we know how often you should change your sheets, we’ll guide you through the process of washing them.
- Start by reading the label on your sheets and see if there are particular instructions for washing. You’ll also be able to see the limit on the water temperature for the specific material. Polyester typically needs to be washed in warm water; cotton sheets should be fine in hot water. You shouldn’t be washing your sheets with other items, such as clothes or pillows, as they’ll be cleaned better if they’re circulating in water on their own. Additionally, other items in the washing machine can damage your bed sheets, especially if you wash sheets more often than usual.
- Before placing them in the washing machine drum, check for stains. If any, remember to pre-treat them before you put the sheets in the washing machine. Chocolate stains, for example, should be pre-treated with a product that contains enzymes, and it should be done in warm water.
- Using a gentle cycle, wash your bed linens in hot or lukewarm water. This depends on whether or not you want to sanitize them. Only hot water will remove pathogens, allergens, and other forms of contamination that may have occurred during an illness.
- Finally, once the washing is done, remove the sheets and shake them out before drying to avoid wrinkling. In addition, you can rinse them with lukewarm water to get rid of any detergent residue. It’s ideal to dry the sheets outside but not directly exposed to sunlight.
If you stick to our advice and wash sheets weekly, it’s best to have several sets of sheets that you’ll rotate throughout the month.
You can wash linen sheets at higher washing temperatures as this is a durable material that will get softer the more you wash it. Never use bleach, and always choose a milder detergent. There’s no need to use long or hot dryer settings as they tend to dry more quickly than other materials.
If you want to machine-wash silk, it should be done in a delicate or silk cycle in cold water. Ideally, silk should be hand-washed and laundered in a silk-only load. If there are any instructions from the manufacturer on which soap to use while washing, make sure to buy it, thus prolonging the life of your silk sheets.
How Often Should You Wash Other Bedding?
Now that we know how to wash our sheets and how often, let’s see how frequently we should wash the other bedding.
When in doubt, always check the manufacturer’s care instructions, as they will show how and when to wash the specific piece of bedding. In most cases, pillowcases should be washed once weekly, but that depends on your habits. If you have a skin condition or you go to sleep with makeup on, you might want to wash them more frequently.
Blankets and comforters are fine being washed every two to three months, while pillows can be washed every four to six months, if washable at all. Duvet covers can be washed every two weeks, up to one month.
If you’re looking for a new mattress topper and you’re not sure how often to clean it, every three months is considered optimal. You don’t want to clean it every month since that can shorten its lifespan. This brings us to the mattress itself, which should be cleaned about twice a year. If you notice any sagging or damage after cleaning it, maybe it’s time to get a new one, as mattresses should be replaced every seven to 10 years.
Your sheets, pillows, and other bedding are the pillars of a good night’s sleep and should be taken care of in the best way so you can be well-rested and healthy. Now that we know that most of us should wash our sheets weekly, you can set a monthly plan and keep them fresh at all times. As we also provided instructions on how to wash sheets, you have a clear guide that you can use if you plan to do your washing this weekend.
Is it OK to wash bed sheets once a month?
The recommendation by most experts is to wash sheets once a week. If that’s not feasible for you, try to wash the sheets once in two weeks since cleaning them once a month isn’t the best idea, especially if you sweat more than an average person or share your bed with a partner.
Is it better to wash your bed sheets in hot or cold water?
It all depends on the material, but the general tip is to wash them in warm water. Hot water can damage fine materials and can fade colours. If you use cold water, your sheets won’t be sanitized.
How often should you wash your sheets if you shower before bed?
The answer is still the same. You should be washing sheets once weekly, although showering before bed is a great strategy to keep the sheets cleaner for a longer period. People who don’t shower before bed should wash their sheets more frequently.