How often should I wash my sheets?
It's a great question and one that there isn't an exact answer to. It all depends on your sleeping habits, your personal hygiene, clothing preference and more! Still, there is a sheet-washing frequency experts generally recommend.
Unwashed Sheets Are Home To Some Not So Nice Things
Between getting a good nights sleep and our lazy weekends lounging in bed, the average person spends 12,045 days—yep, you read that right, days— in bed. What's more is that each day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, humans shed between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells. You don't have to be a scientist to guess where most of those dead skin cells end up... that's right, your bed!
Unfortunately, things only get yuckier from there. No one loves dead skin cells more than dust mites. According to the Mayo Clinic, dust mites are super tiny microscopic creatures that live to chow down on your dead skin cells. SELF describes unwashed sheets (and your bed in general) like an all-you-can-eat buffet for these mites. Let us be the first to join you in saying, "GROSS!"
When you pair dead skin cells with, your own sweat, drool, oils, and any other fluids, if you don’t wash your sheets for an extended period of time, you're essentially sleeping in a cesspool of your own filth. And, if you have a pet or share your bed with someone else, you can that gross mess of germs you're sleeping in and multiply it.
Ultimately, our sheets can get pretty contaminated pretty quickly!
So, what do dirty sheets mean for your health?
Honestly, we're not sure— it varies person to person. Before you start panicking that you'll come down with a life threatening illness because you haven't washed your sheets in two weeks, we'll say the main health concern behind sleeping on dirty sheets, is that of your skin.
Unwashed sheets are full of dirt, germs and bacteria, so for some people, especially those with sensitive skin, that can lead it increases in issues like acne and eczema.
Then there’s the dust mite factor. Since dust mites are common allergens, having them in your bed can provoke allergy symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and general discomfort that makes it hard to get good rest at night.
If you don't shower before bed, and are constantly putting your pillow or blankets between your legs and on your face, there is the possibility of contracting illnesses like pink eye.
Again, sleeping on unwashed sheets doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get sick, but it’s still smart to wash them regularly.
Wash your sheets once a week
Experts typically like the idea of you washing your sheets once a week because it is frequent enough that you're able to mitigate the levels of contamination that can cause adverse health affects and more importantly it's realistic.
Once a week is a very general number, and depending on your lifestyle you may need to up your washing routine to two even three times a week.
Not sure if your lifestyle requires more frequent washing? Ask yourself these questions:
Do you wear pajamas to bed? They can trap some of your dead skin cells so they don’t wind up on your sheets.
Do you shower before bed? That gets rid of some of those dead cells, too.
Do any pets sleep with you?
Do you share your bed with someone else?
Do you move around a lot in your sleep? If you move around a lot, you're likely shedding more skin cells.
Do you drool all over your pillowcase every night?
Do you eat in bed? Sleeping with crumbs and spills is a no-go.
Do you have skin issues such as acne or eczema?
Sometimes life gets in the way
We get it, sometimes you just can't get that load of laundry in the wash. If you're unable to wash your sheets once a week, at a minimum make sure you shower and wash your face right before bed.
If possible, in between washes make your bed regularly. As you make your bed, tiny dry particles your sheets have accumulated fall to the floor, and you're able to keep extra germs and allergens out from under the covers (to an extent).
If you absolutely hate doing laundry, and we don't blame you, try buying a few extra sets of sheets. This way, even if you're unable to wash your sheets every week, you'll at least be able to swap your ultra dirty sheets for a fresh set until you're motivated enough to head to the laundry room.