Clean Up Well: How Often to Wash (& Change) Your Sheets & Bed Linens

Clean Up Well: How Often to Wash (& Change) Your Sheets & Bed Linens

October 31, 2019


One of the best things about staying in a nice hotel is having freshly changed sheets every night. But life isn’t always like a nice hotel. Things get busy, and the laundry becomes one of the many things to be postponed. To that end, there are some guidelines on how often — and how — to freshen that much-loved bed.

How often should I wash my sheets and pillowcases?

The short catch-all answer is simple: weekly. Most of us wash our clothes weekly, so that’s a good time to throw your bed linens (and bath towels) in. 

But … I shower at night! 

The weekly thing is a guideline. If you’re a freshly washed beacon of cleanliness every time you dive into bed, or if you spend a few nights a week traveling or at a significant other’s place, you can push the weekly guideline to biweekly. 

But still … the bed looks clean.

It might look it on the surface (especially if your sheets aren’t white), but over time, things accumulate on it. What are the things? Oh, you know … skin cells. And dirt, sweat, and body oils. And, finally and most disgustingly: a colony of dust mites. (Don’t Google them, they’re not cute.) A lot of these things aren’t seen by the naked eye, but they take a good washing to get eradicated.

two people in socks in bed

So how do I wash my sheets to clear all this yucky stuff?

Obviously, don’t disregard any care labels on your particular sheets, but that said, when it comes to killing the critters, the hotter the water (and the higher the heat in the dryer), the better. If your care label specifies cold water and your sheets’ material really can’t take a hot wash, dry them out in the sun, as sunlight has an antimicrobial effect. (But note: many excellent-quality sheets will do just fine with a hot wash.)

What about the other stuff?

Throws, blankets, and comforters don’t need to be washed with the same frequency as your nightly bed linens, because your body isn’t in close skin-to-skin contact with them as regularly as with your sheets. But that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Wash them once per season, and occasionally toss them in the dryer for 10- to 15-minute stints between washings, to get rid of critters. Finally, wash pillows and mattress protectors several times per year (because, while you don’t make direct skin contact with them, dust mites don’t exactly skip them).

How often should I change my sheets?

This one’s more about convenience than anything. For overall ease (and to help you stick to your routine), it’s a good idea to have two sets of sheets, so that you can alternate weeks, and put on a fresh set as soon as you throw one of them into the wash. Caveat: you might fall asleep on your cozy, fresh sheets before you even get to emptying the dryer. 




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