Most of us are guilty of leaving our bed sheets on for longer than we probably should. No matter how appealing the thought of crisp fresh sheets may be, the prospect of laboring through another load of laundry is enough to put it off for another day.
Telling yourself that one more night won't hurt can easily become a slippery slope. Before long, days turn into weeks and your bed sheets are begging for a wash. You might have convinced yourself that you can get away with it - after all, nobody else would ever know - but do you know how often you should really be washing your bedding?
Ask ten people and you're likely to get ten different answers. And although we all want to make sure our sheets are hygienic, we also want to live as sustainably as possible and avoid wasting water or energy unnecessarily. To put your mind at rest, we've asked some experts the real answer to this contentious question so you can sleep better knowing that your sheets are beautifully clean.
How often should you wash your bed sheets?
While all of us make excuses from time to time, really you should wash your bedding once a week to ensure a clean and comfortable sleep.
'If you don't sleep in your bed every night, you can stretch this to once every two weeks,' says Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home (opens in new tab). 'Some people may even wash their bed sheets twice a week, but this is 100% personal preference.'
Jaime Snell, founder of the toxin free product service Eco Crates (opens in new tab), agrees that once a week should be the aim. 'There are many reasons for this, the most important being to help maintain optimal health,' she says. 'Our beds, including our sheets, collect dust particles that are fine enough to slip through the sheets.'
According to Jaime, these particles can build and settle into your sheets without regular washing, not only festering on your skin but creeping into your lungs while you sleep. That thought alone is enough to encourage us to strip the bed.
Is it OK to wash sheets once a month?
Although your teenage self may have only washed the sheets once a month, it should really be avoided at all costs since our bedding can affect our skin.
'You don't want to wait a month to wash your bed sheets, and two weeks is stretching it,' explains Jen. 'Think about how much you use your bed sheets and you should understand why it's a good idea to wash them more than this.'
If washing your bed sheets once a week isn't possible Dr Anna Chacon (opens in new tab), a dermatologist specializing in psoriasis, has some tips to lessen the factors that can contribute to the accumulation of bacteria or dirt on your bed sheets.
'You should avoid allowing your pets on your bed or eating and drinking in your sheets since crumbs can attract ants or other bugs and increase the risk of spills,' she says. 'Additionally, you can shower every night to avoid taking the germs from the whole day into your bed.'
What happens if you don't wash your bed sheets regularly enough?
If you allow your imagination to conjure the terrifying images of an unwashed bed under a microscope, it will probably lead you to adopt the strictest laundry regime ever. But if you want the cold hard facts, Jen has some answers.
'If you don't wash your bed sheets on the one or two-week cycle, this allows you to be exposed to pollen, bacteria, fungi, and animal dander as it gets caught in the sheets,' she explains. 'Sweat, skin cells, and bodily secretions can also start to build up, and you then lay on them each night.'
Since we spend a third of our day asleep in bed, our skin will collect all of this dirt during the night, leading to clogged pores that can cause various skin conditions. 'It could also lead to greasy hair, skin rashes, oily skin, and a bad reaction from chemicals the manufacturer may have treated with the sheets if they were not of an organic origin,' says Jaime.
Should you wash your bed sheets in hot or cold water?
You've established how often to wash your sheets, but how do you know which setting to wash them on?
'There are pros and cons when choosing the temperature to wash your sheets,' says Jaime. 'While hot water is best for allergy sufferers as it kills all living organisms, it can also fade your sheets over time while the heat wears down the fabrics.'
As we all know, cold water is more energy efficient and it can also help prolong the life of your sheets, but as Jaime adds: 'It doesn't permanently rid the garments of all dust and debris that could easily trigger allergies and dermatitis for those prone to sensitive skin.'
As we all know, cold water is more energy efficient and it can also help prolong the life of your sheets, but as Jaime adds: 'It doesn't permanently rid the garments of all dust and debris that could easily trigger allergies and dermatitis for those prone to sensitive skin.' will help you get your sheets clean.' b
In general, 140 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature to clean your sheets sufficiently without damaging the linen. If your washing machine has a bedding setting, the spin cycle will extract enough water without being so agitative it damages any fibers. Remember, when it comes to washing silk, you should handwash where possible in tepid water.
Should you wash your sheets more often if you share a bed?
If you share a bed with a partner, you might want to consider washing your bedding more often, but this is dependent on your personal circumstances.
'The added body heat is likely to cause you both to sweat more while you sleep meaning your sheets will get dirtier much faster,' says Jen. 'It's a good idea to wash your sheets every three to four days, and only go a week maximum between washings to keep them clean.'
Lilith Hudson is the Junior Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news articles for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration that you need in your home. She discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. Lilith now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London (a degree where she could combine both) and has previously worked at the Saturday Times Magazine, ES Magazine, DJ Mag and The Simple Things Magazine.
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