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How Often Should You Wash Your Bed Sheets?


May 2023


Cody Miller

In a seven-day span, most of us likely spend 50-70 hours sleeping in our beds, according to the Sleep Foundation.

While you're drifting off into a deep sleep, you're likely not thinking about the potential germs inhabiting your sheets. However, sheets and pillowcases can accumulate sweat and oil. Plus, like other surfaces in your home, your sheets can accumulate dust and other allergens.

If you don't regularly wash your sheets and pillowcases, the presence of these substances can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma and even cause reactions like allergies, rashes and other skin breakouts, all of which not only impact you while you're awake but can also negatively affect the quality of your sleep.

What Gets in Your Sheets?

As mentioned above, there are a number of bodily fluids as well as outside substances and critters that can take up residence in your bed sheets.

The most common substances that get trapped in your sheets and can irritate your skin and lungs include:

- Dirt can come in a multitude of forms, like bacteria on your skin or particles that could be sticking to your clothes.

- Dead skin that you shed while you're asleep can attract critters that may feed on your dead skin cells.

- Body oils are somewhat unavoidable, but you should also avoid putting on lotions and creams on exposed skin just before bed since it will likely get wiped off by your bed sheets.

- Sweat is mostly unavoidable as well, but you should consider taking a shower before heading to bed at night especially if you've exercised or been active during the day.

- Dust mites are incredibly small critters that are very common and feed on dead skin or dander from humans and pets, often worsening allergies and conditions like asthma, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

While these are the common substances that collect in your bed, you may also have other substances like makeup and hair products that rub off on your pillowcases and bed sheets. These can also irritate your lungs and skin and even your eyes.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

Generally, you should wash your bed sheets every 1-2 weeks, the Sleep Foundation suggests. However, this timeframe shortens or lengthens depending on certain lifestyle choices.

For instance, if you sleep without any clothes on, more dead skin and body oils will consequently end up in your sheets. Also, if you let your pets sleep in your bed with you, more substances will naturally end up on your sheets. If either of these situations pertains to you, it's suggested you wash your sheets every four days or so.

On the other hand, if you shower before heading to bed, you may be able to go a full two weeks before cleaning your sheets. This helps remove excess dead skin, dirt and oils before you turn in for some shuteye.

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