If it’s been a while since you washed your bedsheets (or, honestly, you can’t even remember the last time you changed them out) then worry not as you sail in the boat as many. Some people only considered bedding legitimately dirty after over a month had passed without a change.
You are obviously nose-blind to your own body odors but, whether or not odorous, unwashed sheets can lead to some health issues over time, like irritated skin, acne, and allergic reactions to dust mites.
So, how long is too long to go without a fresh set? Here, your guide to how often you need to wash your sheets, why you’re best off sticking to the schedule, and how to cope if you’re already dreading doing running the washing machine.
So, how often should you actually wash your sheets?
As a general rule, you should wash your sheets every 1 to 2 weeks. That being said, if you or your partner get sweaty, or you have hit the sack, love to snooze in your birthday suit, or share your bed with pets, you’re dirtying up your sleep space more than you would if you were, say, sleeping alone in your pajamas. If any of the above sounds familiar, you should aim to wash your sheets once a week. Period!
Another note: If you’re prone to acne or skin allergies then you might want to toss in your pillow cases even more often. Ditto if you tend to fall asleep without removing your make-up, wash your hair only a few times a week, or lather on heavy moisturizer before bed.
What happens if you don’t wash your sheets that often?
First, there’s the yikes factor: Every hour, you shed about 200 million dead skin cells (that’s upwards of 1.4 billion per night, times two if you’re sleeping with your partner). And, in your bedding, tiny, eight-legged dust mites feast on your dead skin cells. While these critters don’t carry any disease, their body parts (and poop) are one of the most common triggers for year-round allergies. If you don’t regularly clean your sheets, you might find yourself sneezing with a runny nose or, in extreme cases, even wheezing or having a hard time breathing.
Beyond pesky dust mites, you’re also spending lots of quality time with whatever you’ve picked up or put on throughout the day, including dirt, make-up, lotion, and environmental pollutants, to name a few. Add to that your own sweat, body oils, and sexual fluids, plus pet dander, and you’ve got some pretty nasty sheets.
Even worse? Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi tend to thrive in moist environments — including your dirty pillowcase.
But what if you don’t have time to wash your sheets every week?
Life’s busy, especially if you are not to fond of running your washing machine and dryer. The easiest solution is to stock up. Keep three sets of sheets for your bed and cycle them out every one to two weeks.
When you do have time to wash your sheets, make sure to follow the care label for any specific washing and drying instructions. If possible, opt for the hottest washing temperature setting in order to kill dust mites. And, of course, remember to separate your sheets by color — dark colors or reds can dull or bleed onto lighter colors, a recipe for tie-dye sheets if you’re not careful.
And while you might be tempted to dump in the whole pack of detergent powder if your sheets are super dirty, don’t overdo it. Using more detergent than your load could mean detergent molecules themselves become lodged in your sheets, which can, unfortunately, further irritate your skin.
Now, as you strip your mattress, and re-make your bed, just remember: Nothing beats the simple luxury that is sliding into crisp and clean sheets!