Many people want to find out how often they should wash their bed sheets because washing bed sheets is time consuming and expensive (a laundry load costs $1.27 on average – Source). Most articles will recommend that you wash your bed sheets “once a week”. HOWEVER, that is not the correct answer for most people.
The real answer is more nuanced: for example, if you shower every day, change your PJs often or sleep mostly alone, you don’t need to wash your bed sheets once a week. You might be perfectly fine changing your bed sheets once every 2-3 weeks. Take our quiz below to find out how often you should wash your bed sheets (based on your own habits and lifestyle).
Doctors Say You Should Wash Your Bed Sheets Once a Week… But It Depends on Your Lifestyle
A Professor at NY University’s School of Medicine (Philip Tierno) stated that you should wash your bed sheets about once a week. The reason is that bacteria, dust mites or allergens “accumulate to become significant usually between one or two weeks. Bottom line, [your sheets] should be washed probably on the average of once a week.”
Once a week is also the advice given by most online articles. HOWEVER, the right answer depends on several factors:
- do you sleep naked or in PJs?
- how long do you keep the same PJs?
- how often do you shower?
- is someone sleeping with you? is a pet sleeping on your bed?
- do you have allergies?
- how much do you sweat?
As it turns out, a lot of people can wash their bed sheets just once every 2 or 3 weeks. So how do you know what’s right for you? We’ve built this 5-question quiz below to let you know how often YOU should wash your bed sheets.
5-Question Quiz to Find Out How Often YOU Should Wash Your Sheets:
To make it easy for you, we have put together the following quiz with 5 quick questions (Sources used: WebMD, The HealthLine, The Sleep Foundation). Click “Start the quiz” below:
People Wash their Bed Sheets on Average Once Every 24 Days
There is a little bit of a difference between how often people should wash their bed sheets and often they actually do! A survey by Mattress Advisor with 1,000 Americans found out that people change their bed sheets on average about once every 24 days (a little over 3 weeks).
How Long Can You Keep the Same Bed Sheets Before it is Considered “Gross”?
Well, “Mattress Advisor” has actually asked the question, and we know the answer! Most people consider it “gross” when bed sheets are not changed at least once every 35 days (so about once a month is considered not enough).
What Can You Do To Avoid Washing Your Bed Sheets So Often??
You can do the following to help maintain a better bed hygiene and avoid having to wash your bed sheets so often:
- Put some PJs on!
- Change your PJs after 1-2 nights
- Wash your pillow cases but not your bed sheets
- Shower every day
- Clean up before going to bed
- Avoid having a pet sleeping on your bed
- Push your duvet or cover sheets to the end of your bed to let your bottom sheets and mattress get more air during the day
Why Wash Bed Sheets?
Bedding can be a breeding ground for bacteria and dust mites. Lurking in your bedsheets are thousands of gross bacteria, bugs, fungi and other allergens. After all, your spend 1/3 of your life in your bed, and bedsheets end up assumulating anything from sweat and dead skin to … “human fluids” (We will spare the details). Allergens may cause or exacerbate allergies, or aggravate asthma.
Should You Wash Your Bed Sheets in Hot or Cold Water?
The transition to using cold water as the default for all washing is one of the most significant changes in the way we do laundry. People have traditionally been instructed to use hot or warm water for better results, especially when it comes to bed sheets and pillowcases.
Hot water, on the other hand, is no longer required in most laundering situations owing to the fact that clothes, sheets, towels, and other fabrics are now made with synthetic materials.
Brian Sansoni, VP at the American Cleaning Institute, stated to CNN that nowadays “Most laundry can now be done in cold water. That should be the default.”
The impact of laundry on the environment is not insignificant. According to the Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences (Source), residential laundry, which includes washing, drying, and water heating, “contributed 8.29% of the total residential sector emissions (EIA 2004)”. Washing and drying a 10 pounds load of laundry every seven days adds approximately 240 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in a year.
Using cold-water cycles will help drastically reduce your carbon footprint: The American Cleaning Insitute states that “About 90% of the energy used by the washing machine during laundry goes towards heating the water. Using cold water to wash some of your clothes eliminates this energy, making your clothes and the planet happy! Decreasing your carbon footprint can be as easy as switching to cool water.” (Source: Cold Water Saves”).
Additionally, washing your bedding with hot water may cause additional discoloration and shrinkage. Cold-water cycles will help you keep your bedding for a longer period of time.
However, cold water does not kill dust mites (Source: WebMD) so you should consider alternating hot & cold cycles when washing your bed sheets.
Fresh Bed Sheets Might Help You Sleep Better
Another factor that might help you decide how frequently to wash your bed sheets is quality of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation Bedroom Poll, 78% of Americans say that they are more excited to go to bed on sheets with a fresh scent, and 71% say they get a more comfortable night’s sleep on sheets with a fresh scent. So having clean and fresh sheets might be an important factor for you if you have sleep challenges, or if a good night’s sleep is particularly important to you.
You can pick a laundry detergent with a smell that you like. You can also wash your pillow cases more often as well. Keeping your bed sheets or pillow cases clean, with a nice and fresh scent, may make the bedroom more inviting and help you relax and sleep better.
What Happens If You Don’t Wash Your Bed Sheets as Frequently As Suggested?
In just a few days, bed sheets can accumulate significant amounts of dirt, dead skin cells, body oils and sweat, which are breeding grounds for dust mites. Dust mites are little creatures that are very common in beds, and can lead to skin issues and may worsen allergies for many people.
It turns out that they can also quickly multiply in a few days…
Dust mites can reproduce very quickly with all the little things that may amass in your bed sheets if you don’t clean them regularly. At any given time, there can be tens of thousands of these little unwanted animals in your bed. Even if you don’t have allergies, you probably don’t want to sleep with them, and washing your bed sheets will help.
Other Important Recommendations for Good Hygiene
- Wash comforters and other bed items at least once every 2 months.
- Don’t make your bed first thing in the morning! I was surprised to learn that when you make your bed neatly in the morning, you might trap humidity between your duvet and your bed sheets. Instead, make sure your duvet doesn’t completely cover your bed sheets.
- Vaccuum your mattress every 2 months,
However, you should only use the lowest power setting on the vaccuum (Some mattress manufacturers state that vaccuuming can displace internal structure so check your mattress manufacturer’s recommendation first).