Your bed should be a haven of comfort and relaxation. But if you don’t change your sheets often enough, you could be sleeping with dirt, germs, and dust mites. Many people don’t know how often to change their sheets, or they are unable to find the time. Regular sheet washing does require a little extra work, but sleeping on freshly laundered sheets makes it worthwhile.
7 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Sheets
- Noticeable Rips or Stains
- Sleeping with a Pet
- Allergy Symptoms
- Acne Issues
- Itchy Skin
- Contagious Illness
- Bugs and Other Pests
How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?
There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. Individuals can have different schedules for washing their bed linens based on their lifestyles.
In general, you should change your sheets at least once per week. But that rule doesn’t apply to everyone. If you don’t sleep in your bed every night, and you don’t tend to sweat a lot, you may be able to change your sheets every two weeks. During the hot months of summer, washing your sheets once a week is a good idea — but you may be able to go longer during the cool winter months.
However, if any of the following apply, it’s important to wash your sheets at least once a week:
- You sleep with a pet
- You have allergies
- You or a partner sweat excessively
- You have concerns about a pest infestation
If you or a partner have a contagious illness, weekly sheet changes are a must. You may want to change your sheets even more frequently in those instances. To make it easy to change your bed sheets, it helps to have another set or two on hand. Remember to change your pillowcases each time you change your sheets.
How Should I Wash Sheets and Pillow Cases?
Washing sheets in hot water works for some fabric types—but not all. Using hot water on cotton sheets can kill unwanted germs and critters. After washing, you may want to consider ironing your sheets. A warm iron can help sanitize sheets without causing extensive heat exposure.
You may want to use a gentle laundry detergent, especially if you have any sensitive skin issues. If you’re recovering from an illness or fighting dust mites or mildew in your environment, bumping up the temperature is a wise idea. In those scenarios, use warm water and a cool rinse. For pillow cases, the same practices apply.
What About Washing Comforters, Duvet Covers, and Pillows?
Your sheets and pillow cases are the most critical items to wash often because they have the most contact with your skin. But what about other bedding elements, like your duvet and pillows? You need to have a regular schedule for washing your other linen, too — including your comforter or duvet.
If your bed stays fairly clean, you may only need to wash comforters 3-4 times per year. A good rule of thumb is to wash your comforter at least once per season. However, if you notice any stains or have just recovered from an illness, you should wash your comforter as soon as possible.
Duvet covers need more frequent washing. You can wash them once per week, along with your sheets. A once-a-month washing schedule can work, too.
How to Wash a Pillow
In addition to washing your pillow case, you can also learn how to wash a pillow. The cleaning process varies depending on the material of your pillow. It’s a good idea to wash your pillows every three months. You may find it easiest to wash your pillows and comforter at the same time to streamline your laundry schedule.
Always check the manufacturer’s label for care instructions. For down, polyester, or microfiber pillows, you can use your washing machine. It’s a good idea to wash two pillows at once to keep your machine balanced. If you have a pillow protector, be sure to remove it and wash it separately.
If you have a memory foam pillow, it must be washed by hand. Then, vacuum the memory foam thoroughly, and spot clean any remaining stains. For a deeper cleaning, you can put your memory foam pillow into a basin of warm water with a small amount of gentle detergent. You’ll need to squeeze your pillow gently to remove soap and water before drying.
7 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Sheets
If you don’t wash your sheets often enough, you can experience a host of issues. Some are merely inconvenient, while others can disrupt your sleep — or even your daily life. You may not like to think about it, but your bed can harbor pests, germs, fungi, sweat, and more.
Wondering how often to wash sheets? Here are common signs that it’s probably time to change your sheets and do some laundry.
1. Noticeable Rips or Stains
If you go too long without changing your sheets, they may begin to degrade. This is especially true if you opt for less-expensive, lower-quality sheets. You may start to see patches of dirt, stains, or rips in your sheets. These signs of wear and tear should motivate you to strip your bed and wash your sheets.
Small tears don’t necessarily doom a set of sheets. But a stubborn stain that you can’t remove or a large gash in your sheets may mean you need to toss them in the trash. Washing your sheets regularly keeps them in good condition. Over time, neglecting your sheets can add unnecessary expenses to your budget.
2. Sleeping With a Pet
Our beloved pets provide us companionship and comfort. It’s no wonder that many of us gladly welcome our four-legged best friends into our bed at night. Our pets may sneak naps on our beds during the day, too. Having a pet can definitely increase the need to wash your sheets.
As charming as the sight of a cat or dog curled up in your bed may be, most pets shed hair and fur. Dander can add to the toxic concoction that brews when you don’t wash your sheets often enough. But take care when adding sheets with pet hair to the washer and dryer. Too much pet hair can clog the pipes and lead to unnecessary repair bills. You can always use duct tape or a lint roller to extricate some fur before tossing your sheets in the wash.
One helpful trick is to run your linens through a no-heat dryer cycle first. Include a dryer sheet to keep static low, since static causes hair to bond to fabric. Dryer sheets can help remove pet hair and put it in the lint trap. Remove your linens, give them a good shake, then put them in the wash. A 1/2 cup of white vinegar added to your rinse cycle can help relax fabrics and release more pet hairs.
3. Allergy Symptoms
Many people experience allergies in the spring and fall. If you have allergies, it can help to change your sheets frequently. This is especially true if you just can’t shake the congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, and other symptoms that accompany allergies. Your bedding may be the culprit!
Tiny dust mites can live in your bed linens and pillows. These microscopic mites can burrow themselves in fabric and thrive. If you have a dust allergy, dust mites can cause nights full of coughing and sneezing, making it nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep.
You can eliminate this problem by washing your sheets in hot water once a week. And don’t forget to wash your pillow cases, too. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends washing sheets in temperatures of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. These weekly sheet changes can ensure you sleep in a mite-free bed.
4. Acne Issues
Acne is primarily a problem of active hormones in the teenage years. But adults can experience acne, too — especially if they don’t wash their bedding. Sometimes, washing your sheets and pillowcases is one of the best pimple preventions around.
What’s the connection between sheets and acne? Your face rests against your pillowcase and fitted sheet for several hours each night. Oils, dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells can collect on your pillowcase. You may find makeup residues on a pillowcase too. If you sleep on a dirty pillowcase night after night, it can lead to clogged pores that cause acne. The same factors apply to sheets, too. Keep acne issues at bay with a regular sheet refresh.
If you have acne, how often should you change your bedding? Ideally, you should change your pillowcase every few days. If you’re very prone to acne or wear makeup frequently, you may want to up that to daily.
Although washing your face right before bed is essential, it doesn’t eliminate all the oils and bacteria on your skin. That’s why frequent sheet and pillowcase changes can be so helpful. And even if you don’t have acne, changing your pillowcase and sheets often can help keep your skin stay healthy and radiant.
5. Itchy Skin
Are you plagued by itchy skin? You may want to change your sheets and bedding more often. Sleeping on dirty sheets can have unpleasant consequences for your skin and lead to severe itching. If you aren’t washing your sheets frequently enough, it leads to dirt, oils, pests, and other icky substances to build up on bedding. Sleeping in this unsanitary environment can cause skin irritation. Regular sheet changes let you sleep on a clean surface and can help prevent itchy skin.
6. Contagious Illness
If you or a sleeping partner have been sick, change your sheets! There’s no better time to wash your sheets than when you or a family member are recovering from an illness.
When you’re ill, you’ll likely spend more time resting in bed — which is exactly what you need to do to recover. Unfortunately, you’ll also be infusing germs into your sheets and bedding. If you’ve had a fever, you may have experienced bouts of sweating. Cleaning your sheets is an important step for disinfecting a room after an illness. Wash all bed linen, including your comforter and duvet cover. This way, you’ll help contain the spread of germs and prevent others from becoming sick.
Medical experts recommend swapping out bed pillowcases daily during an illness. Usually, you can leave sheets on the bed until the ill person recovers—but change them at least once per week.
Wash germ-laden sheets in the hottest water possible, and use the hottest setting on your dryer. As an extra precaution, disinfect the area around the bed. Clean nightstands, headboards, and bed posts thoroughly. Taking these essential actions will help keep an infection from running rampant throughout your household. Knowing how often to change sheets during an illness is critical for disease prevention.
7. Bugs and Other Pests
Dust mites aren’t the only critters that might take up residence in your bed. Bed bugs can thrive in warm spaces close to humans — and your bed is an ideal habitat. At night, bed bugs crawl out from under the mattress and feed on human blood. If your bed is infested with bed bugs, you may wake up with itchy, painful bite marks on your skin.
Even if your home is impeccably clean, bed bugs can find their way in. They love to travel in dirty laundry. So, if you have a college-age student who brings home laundry bags during breaks, watch out. Also, if you travel to a hotel and come home with some close to wash, you may be bringing bed bugs with you. Bed bugs can hitchhike in the clothing of any overnight guests that visit.
Along with using a mattress protector, washing your sheets is an effective way to protect your bed from bed bugs. Wash your sheets in high heat and put them in the dryer afterward. This strategy kills the bugs and destroys their eggs.
Some other pests can make your bed their homes too. If you’ve been exposed to a lice outbreak, washing sheets helps prevent re-infestation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing all bed linens and bath towels used by an affected person in hot water, followed by a spin in the dryer on high heat.
As much as you may love your furry pet, your four-legged friend may be a haven for fleas. A regular trip to the washer can keep these critters out of your sheets. Like other bugs, fleas can’t survive heat. A hot water wash and time in the dryer are ideal for all your sheets, pillow cases, and other linens exposed to fleas.
Knowing When to Wash Your Sheets
If you find yourself wondering how often to change sheets, you’re not alone. Studies show that it’s important to wash your sheets regularly. While fresh sheets feel soft and smell nice, they can also protect your health. Sleeping with unwashed sheets can lead to unpleasant consequences.
If you own more than one sheet set, changing sheets is less of a burden. Having two or three extra sheet sets can make it easier to do your laundry. Be sure to wash your pillowcases, comforters, duvet, and pillows, as well. Try to wash your pillowcases with your sheets. For the others, you can wait a bit longer between washes.
It can be easy to forget about washing your sheets. But each week, set aside a few minutes to strip the bed and add some clean sheets. It may not be the most exciting moment of your day, but you’ll appreciate it when you slip into bed that night. Sleeping on clean sheets can feel wonderful and help you get better rest.