It’s one of those things that no one ever thinks to ask: How often should I change my sheets? It’s not like you’re doing a workout in them, right? So you can put it off until next week… or the week after that… or the week after that. As it turns out, you should be washing your sheets more often than you think, and for some pretty good reasons.
We spoke with Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO of The Slumber Yard, a website and YouTube channel that reviews mattresses and sleep products. “No matter how clean of a person you think you are, you’re really not,” Ross told The Active Times in an email. “It doesn’t matter how many times you shower each day. The fact is the human body naturally discharges sweat, saliva, mucus, skin cells and a number of other excrements.” And that doesn't account for all the dirt, grime, lint and pollen that you’re exposed to in your everyday environment, he says.
All of these substances build and accumulate on your sheets when you don’t wash them. And if your sheets stink, you might not be so eager to get the sleep you need.
Though you don’t want to hear it, it’s the truth: “You should be washing your sheets and pillow covers weekly,” Ross said. Yep, that’s right. Everyone from Martha Stewart to Real Simple to Reddit agrees. In fact, 73 percent of respondents in this National Sleep Foundation poll said that fresh-smelling sheets gave them a more comfortable night’s sleep.
Once a week might seem like a lot, but when you think about all the time you’re spending (ideally eight hours a night) rolling around in your sheets, it’s worth it.
Just how dirty your sheets get depends on a few other factors. Maybe you shower in the morning and not before you get in bed. Maybe your house or apartment doesn’t have air conditioning. Maybe you’re not the only one in your bed, be it your dog, your kids, your partner, etc. Maybe you’re doing more than just sleeping in your sheets.
The bottom line is that after a week, your sheets have been through enough to warrant a wash. You wouldn’t wear a T-shirt for a week straight, so why let your sheets go any longer?
So you’ve realized maybe it has been too long since you’ve cleaned your sheets (and maybe some other things too), and now you want to clean them the right way. There are a few things you can do to clean your sheets most efficiently and extend their life.
If you want to disinfect your sheets — like after you get sick or if it’s been an especially long time since their last wash — use hot water will kill any bacteria. Don’t use hot water if you have any stains you’re trying to get out, though, as this will just set them into the fabric. In that case, and any normal washing case, just use cold or warm water.
When your sheets get to the dryer, use the low heat setting. High drying temperatures can put a lot of stress on the fabric, so using a cooler setting but with a longer cycle helps them last longer.
Now, before you sigh in defeat and get up to go wash your sheets (you should be so proud), remember that “your sheets” doesn’t mean your entire bedding set. Blankets, comforters, pillows and other bed accessories don’t necessarily need to be washed weekly. Your sheets and your pillowcases do. Plus, with cleaner sheets, you might come closer to getting the amount of sleep you really need, according to doctors.