Washing one’s sheets can be a major chore, but it’s sadly necessary to do so regularly. Fun fact: Humans naturally produce around 26 gallons of sweat in bed every year. Plus, there are a lot of unpleasant things lurking in one’s bedding and mattress, including allergens (think dust mites), skin cells, bacteria, traces of cosmetics, drool, and even fungal spores. Most of this stuff is invisible, but just because someone’s sheets look clean doesn’t mean they’re in the clear.
Microbiologist Philip Tierno told Business Insider that a good rule of thumb is to wash one’s sheets once a week to avoid any nasty reactions to the buildup in the bed. “People are breathing that air in eight hours a day, every day of their life,” Tierno said. “That’s why it’s imperative to keep it relatively clean, so people don’t overexpose their body to these allergens.”
But people’s sleeping habits will dictate what sheet-washing schedule is best for them — if they sleep naked, or their dogs share the bed with them, consider laundering the bedding more regularly. If people travel often for work and don’t really sleep in their bed that much, waiting longer between washes is totally fine.
Also, consider how your bedding is affecting the skin. If you’re prone to facial acne, switching to a clean pillowcase every day may help. Experts also recommend changing your pillowcase after you’ve had a cold or the flu, just to get any nasty germs out of your way once you’ve healed.
What’s the best way to wash sheets, anyway? Ideally, people should wash sheets on a hot water setting and use a hot dryer cycle to maximize the chances of killing germs. If people have white sheets, they should consider using laundry bleach as a disinfectant — chlorine bleach, often labeled as regular bleach, will work. People may want to wash dark sheets in a cooler water setting to prevent them from fading.
Sheets take up a ton of space in your washer and dryer, so try not to cram other clothes in the laundry load with them if you can possibly avoid it. And when it comes to drying, always follow the guidelines on your sheets’ care label.
Ultimately, don’t stress about it if you don’t get around to washing your sheets quite as often as the experts recommend — everyone is different! But take extra care when you’re sick, and if you spot stains or detect an odor, you know it’s time for a bedding change.
Featured image: Stacey Newman/Shutterstock
Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.
He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.
Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.