How Often Should You Wash Your Bed Sheets?

When the day’s over and it’s time to go to bed, you usually aren’t questioning how often you should wash your sheets. That is, until you pull the covers over you only to discover your once-white-sheets aren’t looking so fresh anymore. Changing your sheets regularly is important for both your sleep comfort and your health. If you want to know how often you should wash your sheets, keep reading to find the answers we lay out in this complete guide!

Why It’s Important to Clean & Change Sheets

Lurking within your bed sheets is a plethora of invisible, unwanted materials with which you’d never want to share sleeping quarters. Dead skin cells, dust mites, and even fecal matter are all things frequently found in filthy sheets. Failure to change sheets regularly can leave you exposed to the following:

  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Pollen
  • Animal Dander
  • Bodily Secretions
  • Sweat
  • Skin Cells
  • And more!

While sleeping with these materials generally won’t make you sick, they do have the potential to negatively affect your health when left untreated for long periods of time. Especially for those with sensitive skin; failing to wash your sheets can spark an eczema outbreak or cause contact dermatitis.

People with asthma and allergies are also particularly at risk for worsening their symptoms due to unwashed sheets. A 2017 study even found that people can transmit and contract infections through soiled bed sheets. Long story short? Sticking to a regular washing routine is essential for your health and comfort.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

The popular census among the internet seems to be that most people change their sheets every two weeks or so. While this appears to be standard practice for most, the experts recommend that sheets be washed once a week. This is especially critical if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You have asthma or allergies
  • You or your partner sweat frequently during sleep
  • You or your partner have a contagious illness
  • You sleep with a pet in the bed
  • You eat in the bed
  • You go to sleep without showering
  • You sleep in the nude

If more than one of these factors sounds all too familiar, you may want to change your sheets even more frequently than the recommended one time per week. Any period longer than two weeks between washing is probably not the wisest (or cleanest) idea.

How to Wash Your Bed Sheets

There are two main ways in which you can wash your sheets effectively: machine washing and hand washing. We break down the most important considerations for each in the sections below.

Machine Washing Sheets

Always refer to your sheets’ care instructions before placing them into the washing machine. While it’s considered best practices to wash your sheets in the hottest water possible, there are other care instructions that will advise you to wash the sheets in cold water.

If your sheets are unable to withstand the hottest water setting on your washing machine, or placed on high heat in your dryer, you can always opt to air dry them in the sun. The sun’s UV rays act as a natural antimicrobial agent, effectively disinfecting your sheets when scalding hot water is not an option to do so.

Alternatively, you can iron your sheets to help sanitize them without exposing them to high heat for too long.

Hand Washing Sheets

Again, before hand washing your sheets, refer to the proper care instructions on the tag to see what water temperature is best. Follow the steps outlined below for the best results:

  1. Fill a tub or container with water at the recommended temperature per your care instructions and saturate your sheets completely.
  2. Stir approximately one tablespoon of laundry detergent into the water until evenly distributed.
  3. Fully submerge your sheets, kneading them repeatedly for five minutes — be careful not to scrub them aggressively! If they’re particularly dirty, let them soak in the soapy mixture for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Using cool, running water, rinse your sheets until the water runs clean without suds.
  5. Squeeze out any excess water gently, and hang the sheets out to dry in the sun.

How Often You Should Change Your Sheets & Pillowcases

As we mentioned before, you should change your sheets at least once per week. If doing laundry every week sounds like a drag, consider purchasing a set of backup sheets. This way, you can stick to your plan of changing sheets once per week without having to do extra laundry. When you’ve gone through two weeks, you can then wash two sets of sheets at the same time!

Ahhh – freshly cleaned bed sheets

Pillowcases, on the other hand, only need to be washed every two weeks. This gives you even more incentive to have a pair of backup sheets on-hand. That way, once you hit the two-week interval, you can wash your pillowcases and both sheet sets all together.

What About Pillows, Comforters & Duvets?

Thankfully, your actual pillows, comforters, and duvets don’t need to be washed as frequently as your sheets and pillowcases. This is largely due to the fact that you don’t sleep on these items directly. Still, it’s important to keep up with a regular cleaning schedule to keep from collecting unwanted debris.

In general, blankets, comforters, and duvets should be washed about every three months. Between each wash cycle, you can help disinfect these items by tossing them in the dryer on high heat for 10 – 15 minutes.

Pillows require even less frequent cleanings: It’s recommended that you wash your actual pillow twice per year. Keep in mind, you should never machine wash your pillow as it could damage the material. However, the manual effort it takes to hand wash a pillow pays off in spades by removing insect debris, enhancing their fluffiness, and extending their lifespan.

How Often You Should Buy New Sheets

Like any item that gets frequently laundered, sheets can start to lose their luster with time. The more vigorously and habitually you wash them, the more likely it is that they will become worn-out, frayed, or experience elastic deterioration.

Because no two sheets are equal in quality of materials or washing frequency, there is no set recommendation for how often you should buy new sheets. The highest-quality sheets can last for decades, while inexpensive sheets may only last a few years. In general, most people opt to buy new sheets when they choose to redo their bedroom décor.

Which Sheets Are Best?

It depends on your personal preference. High-end, luxury sheets are a great option in terms of durability and longevity, easily lasting between 10 – 20 years in some cases. Below are just some of the luxury sheet options you can choose from when making a purchasing decision:

  • Brooklinen: Complete with a lifetime warranty and a wide variety of color and pattern options, Brooklinen offers hotel-quality sheets that truly last 
  • Boll and Branch: These luxury, environmentally friendly organic cotton sheets are made right here in the USA, featuring plenty of options to accommodate virtually any sleeper. If you’re someone who is on a tighter budget, it may be in your best interest to choose a more affordable option.
  • Tuft and Needle: These wallet-friendly sheets still come with a warranty, and some even feature dirt-repelling capabilities. While they aren’t the luxury quality you might find in Brooklinen or Boll and Branch, they’re a great option for those looking for good-quality sheets on a budget.

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Should I wash new sheets before I put them on my bed?

Yes — even if your sheets don’t explicitly state that it’s necessary to do so, washing a new set of sheets before placing them on your bed is a good idea. It will help remove any chemicals in which the fabrics have been treated during manufacturing. Or, in Boll and Branch’s case, it will help shrink them so they fit perfectly snug around your mattress.

How often should I wash towels?

While it depends on what the towels are being used for, in general, bath towels can easily be used up to three times before needing a thorough wash. Hand towels, however, need more frequent cleaning and should be replaced every other day. Depending on how frequently they’re used throughout the day, it may even be a good idea to replace hand towels on a daily basis.

Does thread count matter?

Thread count can give you an indication of how your sheets will feel, but it isn’t an end-all-be-all number. Generally speaking, the higher a sheets’ thread count is, the softer they will be. However, it’s important to note that a low thread count doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality. In fact, many sheets with a low thread count actually feel similar to those with a high thread count. It all comes down to personal preference, and what you’re looking for in your pair of sheets.

How do I wash my mattress protector?

Mattress protectors — like pillows, duvets, and comforters — aren’t required to be washed as frequently as sheets. It’s recommended to wash your mattress protector at least once every two months. To wash your mattress protector, simply place it in your washing machine on a cold or lukewarm gentle setting. Do not use harsh cleaners, such as bleach-based detergents, and do not place in the dryer. Instead, leave it out to dry in the sun.

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