How Often Should You Wash (Change) Your Bed Sheets?


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Aachoo… Do you sneeze and blow your runny nose into a handkerchief the first thing after getting up every morning? Well, we hate to break this to you but it could be because you aren’t washing your bed sheets and pillow cases frequently. Hear us out.

When you sleep, you tend to contaminate your bed linens with a concoction of your sweat, lotions, dirt, pollen, hair, dead skin cells, pet dander, and sometimes bacterial and viral particles too. In fact, it’s said that a person sheds about 500 million dead skin cells every night. Now multiply this with the amount of time you spend in bed in your lifetime, which is about 33 years. Grossed out?!!

Well, that’s why we have put together a guide to understand the what, why and how of washing your bed linens. 

Short Answer: Most experts recommend cleaning bed sheets every week. You may push it to two weeks but anything beyond that is not advisable. Read more, below. 

How Often Should You Change Your Sheets​

What are the heath risks of sleeping on dirty bedding?

Thousands of dust mites thrive on the dead skin you shed on your sheets, neither of which is visible to eyes. A million dust mites can feed on 1.5 grams of dead skin each day. So, you see, the bed sheets become an easy breeding ground for many microbes. These can lead to skin irritation and inflammation and make your existing acne, rashes and skin infections go worse. Experts say that it can also affect the balance of your skin’s microbiome negatively. 

Okay, so how often should you wash your bed linens?

A recent survey by Hammonds Furniture on the bed sheet washing habits in the UK revealed that one in three Brits launder them just once a year! This is in sharp contrast to what experts recommend.

So bookmark this cheatsheet. 

  • If you have allergies, the Allergy UK recommends washing your bedding at least once a week. But if you sweat profusely, wash them more often. 
  • If you do not wash your face every night before hitting the bed, then throw your pillow covers in the laundry basket more than once a week
  • Change your pillow cases two to three times per week especially if you sleep with the leave-on skin creams. 
  • Duvets, thankfully, don’t come in touch with your skin as much, so you may schedule their wash once every other week
  • You aren’t going to like this but it’s the right thing to do. Wash your sheets and pillow covers immediately after you recover from sickness so you don’t come in contact with those germs again. After all, no employer would give you a long sick leave with a smile.

Experts are of the view that frequently-washed bedding don’t just help you manage the allergies better but also improve your sleep. Don’t we all like the smell of freshly-washed bed linens and their crisp and taut feel against our skin? 

On what basis have experts come up with these guidelines?

It’s not just the act of sleeping that is driving the germs in and on your bed but also your habits, some lazy, others not in your control. For instance: 

  • If you do not shower before bedtime
  • If you sleep naked
  • If you do not wash your dirty feet before calling it a day 
  • If you wear unclean socks
  • If you forget to remove makeup and keep oils and creams on overnight
  • If you snuggle into the bed with your pet 
  • If you eat in bed while binge-watching series or movies
  • If you sweat a lot
  • If you have asthma or other allergies 
  • If you have sensitive skin
  • If you have an infection or lesion on a part of your body that comes in contact with your bedding   

If you happen to check any one of these conditions, wash your sheets frequently.  

How should you wash your bedding?

The thumb rule is to wash your sheets in hot water, that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit or 54.4 Celsius. Hot temperatures kill dust mites, bacteria and allergens and hence, hotter the water, better the wash. Alternatively, you can switch the sanitise cycle on your washing machine or the select the highest heat setting on your dryer. You may iron your sheets after the wash to kill any lingering bacteria. 

But before you set out to do the chore, read the label of your bed spreads and pillow cases to understand the recommended wash and settings. 

While changing bedsheets, leave your mattress uncovered for about 30 minutes so it can dry all the moisture on it. 

Another good practice is to make your bed every day. When you fluff the pillow and blankets, dead skin cells on the floor, which can be later vacuum-cleaned. 

Alright but when should you replace your bed linens with new ones?

Washing your bed sheets and pillow covers regularly may cause the fabric to fade and wear off. So it’s a good idea to buy new sheets once in two years.

As for duvets and pillows, they can last up to 10 years if cared for properly. Otherwise, consider changing your duvet and pillow every five years and two years respectively. 

They may say that your mattress is a lifelong investment but no, it’s better to change it every eight to 10 years to shield yourself from germs building up inside it. Yes, you may use a mattress protector to extend its life but then don’t forget to send it to the laundry frequently. 

Wrapping up…

Laundry is one of the most-hated chores of all and we feel you. So here’s something to motivate you to keep at it: We spend 1/3rd of our sleeping life on the bed. Ignoring the hygiene of your bedding is like ignoring your health. Now get going and load up some laundry detergent.  

It is an easier way to prevent any health issues by keeping infections at bay and improving sleep and breathing patterns. Cleaning the bedding can be a hassle but its benefits are many and of course, worth the efforts.


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