Bed Hygiene 1 – How Often Should I Wash My Sheets?

how often should I wash my sheetsHow often should I wash my sheets? Now we are getting personal. So let’s talk about your sheets. When was the last time you changed them? I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t remember. Are you in the group of washing your sheets ‘every week’ or ‘when I feel like it’? Whichever group you fall into, let’s see what the research tells us about how often should you wash your sheets and what does it mean for bed hygiene.

I know a guy that changes his sheets every 3 days. When I researched the question “How often should I wash my sheets?” I realized there was a world of difference between “should” and “need to” wash your sheets.

How Often Should I Change My Sheets? Probably not enough!

In informal polls, only about ⅓ of us are changing our sheets every week or every other week.  Once a month changers make up another ⅓. The rest change when they feel like it.

Here are some shocking findings from a survey run in the UK

  • Males aged 18-25 were the grubbiest, changing their sheets once every 3 months. How gross! When any 18-25 male ever asks you the question “How often should I wash my sheets?” or “How can I attract women?”, be sure to tell them that changing sheets once every 3 months is unhygienic. And, smelly sheets are a total turn-off for the opposite sex!
  • The group that washed their sheets weekly were mostly aged 35-50 and mostly women.
  • On average the men interviewed in the survey only owned one sheet set whereas the women owned 3, on average.
  • Couples change their sheets every 2 weeks, on average.

How Do Sheets Get Grimey?

Skin oil and shed skin is the short answer.

Each night we shed ten of thousands of skin cells onto our sheets. As much as one-fifth of an ounce of skin residue can accumulate on sheets in just one week. This becomes food for microscopic critters like dust mites. Washing removes their food supply.

If you don’t shower right before bedtime, you might also bring dirt onto your sheets or pollen in your hair. If you share your bed with your dog or cat, animal dander is left on your sheets and if they have been mixing with dirt…well you get the picture.

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What Happens If You Don’t Wash Your Sheets?

If you don’t wash your sheets, bacteria will build up and you may have a swarm of bed bugs as unwelcome bed partners! In the long term, both of these are bad for your health.

As your shed skin cells build up over time, they create a great habitat for dust mites. They thrive on those skin cells as food. Dust mites can create allergic reactions, rhinitis, and asthma. I can verify this. Being an asthmatic, I have a horrible allergy to dust mites. I sneeze and wheeze and need to take Ventolin. And when I wake up in the morning, my eyes are itchy and bloodshot. Needless to say, I wash our sheets weekly!

If this is grossing you out, right now, just skip to the heading “How often should I wash my sheets?”

In the long term with all this sweat and skin residue building up over time, you have a greater chance of a bed bug infestation.

Sweat and oils from your body, as well as dirt, can leave bacteria. Over time, that bacteria will multiply. And here’s a tip from Professor Bloomfield:

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And What’s the Solution?

To remove unwanted critter companions and bacteria from your bed, here are 2 suggestions:

  • Make your bed, it cuts down on the external allergens. There are also many other surprising benefits such a mundane task. Read more about by clicking on “Why Making Your Bed Every Morning Matters“, written by a Navy SEAL.
  • When you make your bed, don’t just pull the covers. Instead, take that extra 20 seconds in the morning and flip up the covers. This will disturb the microscopic particles like skin cells, lying on the top of your sheets.
  • Wash your sheets regularly. How regularly? What is the answer to the question “How often should I wash my sheets?” Let’s see what the experts say.

How Often Should I Wash My Sheets?

Medical professionals strongly advise we change our sheets every week.

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A non-medical view may be to wash your sheets every other week. There may be reasons why you would want to change them more often. Let’s dig into these.

How Often Should I Change My Sheets If I’m Sick?

Good question!

Change your sheets when you’re feeling better. Cold and flu viruses can live on sheets and get transferred to another person.

If you have the flu or any viral infection really bad and if spend more than a week in bed, change your sheets weekly.

And yes, you can get sick again with the same cold since your immune system may be weaker after a cold.

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And you have a fungal infection, all that bacteria is brought directly into your bed too.

How Often Should I Change My Sheets If I Sweat…A Lot?

You should change your sheets more often if you sweat a lot. Some people naturally sweat a lot. And other people have night sweats due to hormone changes.

Also wearing night clothes will help absorb the sweat and protect the sheets for longer.

What If You Shower In The Morning?

Just be aware that you’re bringing the day with you including any pollen in your hair. So if you find yourself waking up with allergies flaring, you may want to change your sheets more often.

How Often Should I Change My Sheets If I Eat/Drink In Bed?

If you eat or drink, there’s a good chance you’ve spilled or lost a few crumbs. So enjoy that breakfast in bed or midnight snack. You may want to vacuum your bed the next day.

What If You Wear Pajamas In Bed?

Generally speaking, the night clothing like nightgowns and pajamas absorb the oil, skin, and sweat so your sheets stay cleaner.

If you don’t wear night clothes, you may want to consider changing your sheets twice a week.

Benefits of Changing Sheets Regularly

  • Washing your sheets frequently removes the food supply for the dust mites.
  • Washing will also destroy the bacteria.
  • It’s nicer and healthier to sleep on clean sheets. It also cuts down on dust mites, microbes, and odor.
  • It also reduces the chances of allergic reactions if you’re sensitive to dust or pollen.
  • Fresh sheets feel great.
  • Your bed will smell fresher.
  • It also protects your mattress for a longer life.
  • And finally, you’ll sleep better.

How Often Should You Wash The Other Bedding?

So I’ve addressed the answer to “How often should I wash my sheets” but what about your mattress cover, pillows etc?

Pillows

You can wash your pillows. That’s recommended to be done at least twice a year. Check the care tag on the pillow because different pillows have different requirements.

For a general guideline, you can wash the pillow in cold water and dry it in the dryer on low heat. Also, replace your pillow at least every 18 months. Don’t skimp on your pillow. It cradles your head while you sleep and can make you wake up happy or with a pain in your neck.

Pillowcases

If you have acne, change your pillowcases every 3 or 4 days. Otherwise once a week is a good idea. Our faces have more oils than our bodies. And if we put our face on old oil, it could aggravate your skin to break out more often.

Mattress pad

Most people wash the mattress pad when they wash their sheets.

Mattress cover

If your mattress has a removable cover, also wash it with your sheets.

Comforters

You should wash comforters when they start to smell musty or at least twice a year. If you let pets up on your bed, you may want to wash them more often as the pets bring in dirt and pollen.

If you have very large comforters and duvets, you may want to find a laundromat and use the large capacity machines.

Blankets

And wash throw blankets a few times a year according to care tag directions.

And when you’re sick

Finally, wash everything after you’ve been sick.

How To Change Your Sheets

Hospital staff need to change beds quickly. So we can learn some important tips from them.

  1. Move the covers down off the bottom of the bed. Then move the pillows to the middle of the bed.
  2. Unhook the fitted sheet from the top and start rolling down towards the bottom of the bed.
  3. About the midpoint, you can then take the pillows out of the pillowcases and move the pillows onto the mattress at the head of the bed. Leave the pillowcases on the sheets and continue rolling it down.
  4. Then take a clean fitted sheet and hook one corner on the bottom of the mattress.  Stretch it over to the other corner and hook that in.  Then you can pull one side up. (OK, you are going to have to move the pillows at this point onto the sheets. Just try and keep them off the floor.)
  5. Sometimes with Full and King sized beds, it’s really difficult to figure out which are the long sides.  You can take a permanent ink marker and make some small dots on the bottom of two corners. Then you’ll know which corners those belong to.
  6. Next up is the top sheet.  Here’s a simple video showing how to make good hospital corners on your bed. Why hospital corners? They stick better so you’re not having to re-tuck in the sheets every day.

7. Lastly, you put back up your bedding, and put new pillowslips on your pillows, and you’re done!

How To Change Your Bed

Here’s a video that explains the best way to change your whole bed – sheets, pillows and everything else.

When changing your bed, it’s good to check-in with the state of your mattress. Your mattress is so important to the quality of your sleep each night. How comfortable do you find your current mattress? If it’s memory foam, do you noticed some indentions in the surface where it’s starting to sag? Have a read of my article When Should I Replace My Old Mattress for some tips to delay the sagging and other things you need to consider. It will help you get a comfortable night’s sleep.

Memory foam mattresses last about 5-7 years. If you think it’s about time for you to replace your old mattress before you buy a new one, read my article on the 7 Health Hazards Inside Your Mattress You Should Have Know About.

How To Change Bedding With Someone In The Bed

If you are looking after someone who is bed-ridden, it can be challenging to change bedding. But you have to do it, right? If they have the flu or some kind of viral infection, it’s probably best.

For some useful instructions, have a read of this wiki how article.

How Is Your Sleep Hygiene?

So now we have addressed some bed hygiene and answered the question “How should I wash my sheets?”, let’s turn our attention to your sleep hygiene or, what are the habits you have to help you sleep well. Maybe you have some bad habits that mean you can’t sleep or struggle drifting off to sleep. Take a look at 9 Things Not To Do Before Bed. If one of your habits is that you like to snack before bedtime, wouldn’t be better to eat one of the 17 Foods That Help You Sleep Through The Night?

Maybe an issue around your sleep hygiene is the quantity of sleep you get? Once of the most common questions, I receive on my blog is “How much sleep do I need?”Generally, if you’re an adult, try and get 7 hours sleep each night.

Conclusion

I have presented a few answers for the question “How often should I wash my sheets?”

If you are a stickler for clean and hygiene, wash your sheets weekly. If you’re less fussy but still want to be hygienic, change your sheets at least every two weeks. It doesn’t have to be a burden. If your bed is right against a wall, it will take you longer. You can either move your bed to another place, or accept it’s going to take you an extra five to ten minutes.

To make it easier have a few sets of sheets, pillowcases and mattress pads on hand.  Use the hottest water possible to really get them clean, and consider using a booster like Borax to ensure all the dirt and oil is off of your linens.

And remember, you’re doing this so you can sleep better at night.

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