How often should you change your bed sheets?

How often should you change your bed sheets?
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How often should you change your bed sheets?

bed blanketsWe spend about a third of our lives in bed, sleeping. Sleep provides us with much-needed rest and fuels our mental and physical performance the next day, making it an essential part of our day.

It's important to have a clean and comfortable mattress to ensure we get a good night's rest. It's also vital that what we sleep on is clean and safe to avoid getting ill. This means that bedding and blankets should be changed and washed often.

As with the clothes we wear, the bed sheets we sleep on get dirty and require washing. It makes sense to change them regularly, but how often is ‘regularly’? This is the question we'll answer in this article.

We’ll explain how often your bed sheets should be changed, why you should change them regularly, how often other bedding should be changed, good hygiene habits to minimise how dirty your bed sheets get, and much more.

How often should you change your bed sheets?

It's recommended that you wash and change your bed sheets once a week, or at most every other week. Once a week is a healthy balance between washing sheets regularly enough to avoid the build-up of bacteria, germs, and dirt, without being so often that it becomes hard to fit into your routine.

Still, changing your bed sheets weekly can feel like a hassle, especially if you're busy with work, taking care of kids, or just keeping on top of daily chores. So why do you need to change your bedding this often?

Why should you change your bed sheets regularly?
We lose a lot of fluid and body oils each night through sweating and respiration. We shed dead skin cells, and dirt rubs off our bodies as we toss and turn. These can build up over a week, making your bed sheets dirty and smelly. This can attract bacteria and fungi, which can cause various skin and health conditions.

However, the real danger comes from little things called dust mites.

We shed hundreds of thousands of skin cells every hour. This is a normal way for our skin to replenish old and dead skills cells with new ones. During the day, when we’re out and about, this isn’t an issue, and we don’t even realise it’s happening. The problem arises when we sleep because we are in the same bed for six to eight hours a day.

Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and, thus, thrive in bedding and mattresses where they have an abundance of ‘food’ for a third of the day. Although they’re not visible to the naked eye, they’re still there and reproduce at rapid rates. Fortunately, not everyone is allergic to them, and they often go undetected. However, they can make asthma and allergies worse. Plus, you don’t want to be sleeping in a bed with tens of thousands of them.

What factors warrant more frequent washing of bed sheets?
Unfortunately, some of us suffer from allergies and conditions that dirty sheets can exacerbate. Let’s take a look at scenarios where someone may want to wash their sheets more than once a week.

You have asthma and allergies

As we mentioned earlier about dust mites, tens of thousands of them can be living in your mattress and bedding at any given point. Most people may not even know they’re there. Mostly, they are relatively harmless to humans – unless you have asthma or allergies.

The faecal matter and dead bodies of dust mites on your bedding and mattress can cause severe allergic reactions for some people. This can include a cough, sneezing, skin rashes, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.

Dust mite allergies can also trigger asthma and have been described as one of its most common triggers. Therefore, sleeping in fresh sheets every few days could drastically improve allergy symptoms for those who suffer from asthma and allergies.

Your pet sleeps in your bed

Before going to sleep, it's a good idea to shower and wash off dirt from the day. This ensures that bacteria from the outside do not contaminate your clean sheets. However, humans still build up sweat, dirt, and body oils whilst sleeping, which can be just as bad.

Dogs, cats, and other pets are no different. They also have bodily secretions like sweat and oils that can make your bedding dirty. Not to mention the fact that animals tend not to bathe every day. This means they can carry dirt, bacteria, and infectious diseases on their body for quite some time which will be transferred onto your bed sheets each time they climb up for a nap.

Another issue with allowing your pets to sleep on your bed is that with the amount of fur they can shed. Therefore, allowing pets to sleep where you sleep increases your risk of suffering from asthma, allergies, skin breakouts, and infections.

As such, you should wash your sheets every few days if you have pets that sleep in your bed. Washing sheets regularly keeps you and your pet’s bed clean and dirt-free, safeguarding you both from infections and allergies.

You are sick

Changing bed sheets daily is recommended if you or someone in your home is sick. However, we understand this isn’t a practical option for most people. Therefore, as long as your pillowcase is changed daily, you can ensure any germs and viruses that linger will be washed away.

To kill germs and viruses completely, it’s best to use hot water – as hot as the material can handle. Additionally, it’s best to dry the sheets and pillowcases in direct sunlight for a few hours since UV light can help kill micro-organisms and leftover bacteria. As a safety measure, you can also use a hot iron over your sheets to kill any resilient germs and viruses.

How often should you change other bedding?
Now that you know why, when, and how often to wash your bed sheets, let’s look at how often other types of bedding should be cleaned and washed.

Pillows and Pillowcases

Pillows can go longer periods without washing. For instance, if you use a pillow protector underneath the pillowcase, you can get away with washing your pillow three times a year. It’s good hygiene to unzip and wash the pillow protectors every month, though. This is because oils and dirt from your hair and face can seep into the pillow and pillow protector. If you do not use a pillow protector, it is recommended to wash your pillows every month or two months.

Pillowcases should be washed at least once a week. Pillowcases make contact with your head and face every night. Considering the number of oils, sweat, and dirt we can expel from the pores on our face, they can quickly accumulate significant amounts of dirt. If you fail to wash your pillowcases once a week, resting your head on such a dirty cover can drastically increase the chances of breakouts, acne, and skin rashes. Regularly washing pillowcases could help reduce breakouts for those who suffer from acne and pimples.

Blankets

Blankets are a bit of a tricky one. How often you wash them depends entirely on how often they are used. If you use your blanket every night, you’ll want to wash it once every two weeks at least. On the other hand, if your blanket only gets used once in a blue moon, you can go three months without washing it.

Comforters and duvets
Comforters and duvets can go a relatively long time without being washed. Barring any accidents such as spillage, your comforter and duvet only need to be cleaned a few times a year. Their respective covers on the hand will need much more regular washing. Placing covers in the wash every two weeks should keep them from accumulating too much dirt. If your comforter does not have a separate cover, it’s best to put it in the laundry every month or sooner if there’s a spill or stain on it.

Mattress

Mattresses only need to be washed once or twice a year. Of course, if you drop or spill something on it, you should wash it immediately to avoid it staining. To prevent your mattress from getting dirty more often and thus having to clean it regularly, a high-quality mattress protector can be put on top.

Acting as a shield between yourself and the mattress, mattress protectors will significantly extend your mattress’s life. It will also help keep your mattress clean, often absorbing spills and stains instead of allowing them to seep through. As such, a mattress protector should be washed every month or sooner in case of spillage.

How often you change your mattress and buy a new one depends on your type of mattress. Some can last for ten years without sagging, while others will need to be replaced within five years.

Item How often should you wash it? 
Pillow (with protector)  Three times a year 
Pillow (without protector)  Every one to two months 
Pillowcase Once a week 
Blankets Every two weeks to three months (depending on use) 
Comforter and Duvet  Three or four times a year 
Comforter and Duvet covers  Every two weeks 
Mattress Once or twice a year 
Mattress protector  Every month

How to wash bed sheets and other bedding?

Now that we know how often bed sheets and other bedding should be washed let’s look at how exactly to wash them in order to keep them clean and long-lasting.

Before putting anything into the washing machine, read the manufacturer’s care label carefully. Some fabrics and materials may not be suited to hot washes. Others will tolerate a hot wash just fine. You can group the bed sheets according to their care instructions. If there are any spills or stains on the sheets, it's best to pre-treat them with stain removers first.

Once that has been done, you can put the appropriate sheets into the washing machine and wash them on the hottest setting the care instructions recommend. This will ensure that any bacteria, germs, and allergens are killed and washed away. It’s important to be mindful of the detergent and the fabrics' material, as incompatible ones could cause damage to your sheets.

Ideally, it is best to hang dry sheets outside in the sun as the UV light will kill off any remaining bacteria and germs. Of course, this isn’t always possible with the fickle British weather. Therefore if you’re drying your sheets in a dryer, it’s recommended to tumble dry on low heat to avoid damaging the fabric.

How to keep bed sheets clean between washes?

It’s all well and good to wash your bed sheets regularly. However, your hygiene in between washes has to be up to par to keep your bed clean as well. This will help to preserve your sheets and avoid damaging them too much.

A healthy bedtime habit is to have a shower or bath before going to sleep. This ensures that your body is clear of dirt and germs before climbing into bed, preventing your sheets from getting too dirty each night. Another habit is to avoid lounging around on your bed during the day. Whilst it can be comfortable, you’ll just be dirtying your sheets, so it's a good idea to move to the sofa.

Also, avoid eating food and drinking in bed. Not only do you increase the chances of spills and stains, which will require extra washing to get out, but crumbs of food can attract bugs and cockroaches, which no one wants in their bed!

Other ways to preserve your bed sheets are by removing makeup and limiting the use of lotions, oils, and creams right before bed. These can transfer quickly from your face and body to the fabric. Not only do you increase the chances of staining your sheets, but also make them smell.

How to motivate yourself to change your sheets?

Part of the reason so many people don’t wash and change their bed sheets as often as they should is that it’s a hassle. As with any chore, it can be easy to procrastinate or leave it to the last minute. However, sticking with a schedule will make it easier to motivate yourself to keep on top of it. As with forming any habit, it just takes a bit of time and dedication.

Instead of waiting until the end of the day to remove dirty sheets, it’s a good habit to strip the bed in the morning. It also makes sense to fit new sheets there and then since you’ve already started the task. This means that when it's time to go to bed, you have lovely fresh and clean sheets already waiting for you.

Buying sheets that you enjoy sleeping in will make you more likely to change them regularly. Whether that’s the feel of the fabric on your skin or simply the colours, designs, and the way it makes your bedroom look, you’ll be much more willing to change them when you have sheets you like. Therefore, ensure you buy multiple sets that complement your room aesthetics and are comfortable to sleep in.

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