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. This is because you 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.
Doctors Says You Should Wash Your Bed Sheets Once a Week… But It Depends on Your Lifestyle
A Clinical Professor at NY University 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 recommendation given by most online articles on the topic. HOWEVER, we did additional research and it turns out that the right answer depends on several factors with the most important factors being:
- your allergies
- how long you keep the same pyjamas
- how often you shower
- who is sleeping with you
- whether you have a pet or not
As it turns out, a lot of people can wash their bed sheets just once every 2 or 3 weeks, and be completely fine with it. So how do you know what’s right for you? We’ve built this 5-question quiz below to give you a personalized answer.
Quick Quiz to Find Out How Often YOU Should Wash Your Bed Sheets
To make it easy for you, we have put together the following quiz with 5 quick questions (Sources used: WebMD, The Good Housekeeping Institute, HealthLine, The Sleep Foundation).
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).
The Impact on the Environment
You might want to wash your bed sheets a bit less frequently than what we recommend in our quiz, if you want to have less of a negative impact on the environment.
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, so it is not insignificant.
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 your bed sheets in hot water.
(60 degrees+): cold water does not kill dust mites. Wash comforters and other bed items at least once every 2 months. (Source: WebMD).
- 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).