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How Often Should You Wash Linens and Bedding?


How often do you wash your sheets? It can be a little bit difficult to judge when your sheets are really dirty. They probably don’t look dirty, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need a good spin cycle. The reality is that microscopic detritus can build up on your sheets, and it’s in your best interest to get rid of it before it builds up too much. Take a look at what you need to know about washing your sheets and bedding.


What’s on Your Sheets? 

You probably don’t see anything much on your sheets from a casual glance. What would you see if you looked at them under a microscope? Well, it depends. One thing that you’d definitely find is dead skin cells. They fall off your body and end up accumulating in your bedding. 

Another thing that you’ll find is dust mites. These are tiny critters that eat the dead skin cells. They won’t hurt you – they restrict themselves to lunching on the skin cells that you’re no longer using anyway – but the idea of tiny bugs in your bed is still disturbing. Dust mites are also a common allergen, so if you’re sneezing and coughing more than usual, you might have too many dust mites in your sheets.

You’ll also find oils from your skin on the sheets, and if you’re a drooler, you’ll find dried saliva. If you sweat in your sleep, that gets absorbed by your sheets as well. If you don’t sleep alone, your partner's dead skin cells, dust mites, drool, sweat, and saliva are also in the mix. If you let your pets sleep in your bed, there may also be pet hair and dander. 


Can Dirty Sheets Hurt You? 

It’s not necessarily a sure thing that sleeping in sheets full of dead skin, sweat, and other bodily excretions can hurt you. It’s possible that nothing will happen even if you go a long time without changing or washing your sheets. 

On the other hand, bacteria can accumulate where there is dead skin, sweat, and other bodily fluids and excretions. This bacteria can potentially affect your skin and your health. For example, you might develop an itchy rash or a bad acne breakout after not washing your sheets for too long. 

If your immune system is compromised, you may be more prone to developing other illnesses, like conjunctivitis, from stray bacteria as well. Of course, people with allergies who are sensitive to dust mites may experience more severe symptoms the dirtier the sheets are. 


So How Often Should You Wash Bedding?

The most common recommendation is to wash your sheets and bed linens once a week. This is often enough to keep the dirt and bacteria from building up, but not so often that it’s unrealistic. However, there are some things that may affect whether or not you can afford to wait a few extra days, or whether you need to wash more often. 

If you thrash around a lot on the bed, you’ll shed more skin cells. If you’re a still sleeper, you’ll lose less. Showering before bed removes some dead skin cells before you get into bed, meaning that fewer will wind up in your sheets. If you sweat a lot your sheets will be dirtier. It’s worth taking all of this into account when deciding whether it’s time to wash your sheets.