Everyone has their routine (or lack of one) for how often they flip their mattress and change their bedsheets. Maybe your sister changes her sheets every Sunday, but you tend to do it more like once every couple of weeks or even once a month.
Either way, there is no one right answer for how often we should be changing our sheets because everyone has different needs and lifestyles that determine how often their linens need a wash.
If you tend to let your sheets go awhile between washes, you aren't necessarily dirty, but you are at the lower end of the general cleanliness standard (which is enforced by nobody in particular).
If you're feeling like you need a guide for sheet-washing, however, here are a few factors to consider when deciding how often you should wash your sheets.
The Short Answer
Wash Every 3 Months
The first factor to consider is how often you're sweating in your bed. If you're someone who overheats at night, the sweat will absorb into the fabric and eventually smell a little less than fresh.
Since sheeting (the fabric your sheets are made of) tends to be made from highly absorbent fibers like cotton, the sweat will sink in quickly. In this case, the experts say your sister is right — for your health, it's best to strip your bed and haul your sheets to the laundry room weekly. If you don't sweat much, then you can probably get away with changing your sheets every other week or even once a month.
Another factor to consider is how many people are using your bed. Two people produce twice as much sweat and skin cells as one person, so increase your washing schedule if you share your sleeping space. If you or your sleep partner sleep naked, the need to keep your sheets clean is even more crucial.
Other factors are environmental and unique to your home. Consider the following factors:
Do you have a humidifier in your bedroom? If so, it could be making your sheets damp and more prone to bacteria buildup.
Do you have a fan running? It might be blowing dust mites all over your sheets, increasing their need to be washed.
Maybe you have a dog or cat who likes to nap for a few hours every day in places where they can pick up your scent? All that pet dander makes your sheets dirtier, so wash them once a week.
How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?
Once a week. Yes, you read that correctly. The experts agree that washing your sheets weekly is essential to maintain ideal sanitation and freshness.
Really? Clean the sheets weekly?
You may be thinking to yourself, “Well, I've only been washing my sheets every other week my whole life, and nothing bad has happened yet.” Well, you and your dirty sheets are not alone.
In a 2015 poll by Women's Health Magazine, only 44 percent of the women surveyed said they wash their sheets routinely once a week, while 31 percent said they wash them every other week and 16 percent said they do so only once a month.
If your answer is something like every three months... well, you've got some work to do. Change those sheets as soon as possible and have sweeter dreams.
“Given that you spend hours every night in bed, your sheets collect skin flakes and an assortment of body oils and fluids,” say experts like Martha Stewart and the team at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “Then there's dust, dust mites, and (if you have a cat or dog) pet hair. You should wash your sheets regularly to get rid of that buildup.”
“Bedsheets can rack up a serious collection of sweat, body oils, saliva (if you drool), dirt from outside, sexual fluids, and even urine and fecal matter,” says laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette.
The consequences of not washing your sheets often enough go beyond your sheets not smelling quite as fresh—you could even get an infection. According to studies published by the Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases and the American Journal of Epidemiology, the bodily fluids and dead skin cells we leave behind on our sheets can cause a buildup of fungus, yeast, and other microorganisms. These types of fungi are often found in moist, warm environments like your bed (particularly if you're sleeping with pets). If you share your bed with others, it's even more important to wash those sheets regularly, as bacteria and infections can be passed between people.
In turn, this can also end up ruining your pillow and mattress. Another factor is that athlete's foot and other fungi can be transferred from fabrics. When you don't wash your bedding often enough, infectious fluids can seep through your sheets and into your mattress, which is way more difficult to clean than sheets or a blanket.
So, how often should you wash your sheets? Once a week for most of us. Experts also agree on one other matter–how you wash your bed sheets is almost as important as how often.
How To Wash Sheets
In addition to having a great mattress, sleeping on top-quality bed sheets can have a big impact on the quality of your rest. So, you want to make sure you take good care of your bedsheets so they can help you get a good night's sleep.
Water temperature: Use cold or warm water for most washes. Hot water is best for disinfection and allergy control.
Detergent: Follow the instructions for your favorite brand. Divide the amount of detergent in half for smaller loads.
Fabric softeners: One dryer sheet is standard for a set of sheets. Liquid fabric softener should be used sparingly.
Dryer Temperature: Use the lowest temperature possible to avoid shrinking.
Bleach: Use color-safe bleach to brighten white sheets from time to time.
Martha Stewart recommends washing pillowcases or duvet covers inside out to prevent color fading. She also adds that if you take your linens out of the dryer just before they are fully dry, it's easier to prevent excessive wrinkling. Lay them flat or hang dry.
Laundry expert Leigh Krietsch Boerner warns you to be careful with what you add to your washing machine. If you have sensitive skin or allergy symptoms, Boerner recommends adding ¼ cup of white vinegar to your detergent the first few times you wash a set of new sheets to help get rid of some “factory finishes” that can irritate skin and cause contact dermatitis.
What About Other Bedding?
We have determined the time to wash sheets is once a week, but what about other bedding? For comforters, quilts, and blankets, you should always read the manufacturer's washing guidelines (usually, they are printed on the little label attached, the one you've probably worn off by now). In most cases, you won't need to wash other bedding once a week.
Unlike sheets, blankets might be made with wool, which can shrink and should be gently hand-washed and hung to dry.
Other fibers, like cotton and acrylic, are best machine-washed on a gentle cycle with cool water and a low-sudsing detergent. Avoid bleach and fabric softener, which can damage fibers and cause skin irritation.
If you're using a duvet or comforter, it's best to have it dry cleaned every few months (or more often if you perspire a lot while you sleep).
Mattress pads and toppers should be washed at least every three months to eliminate any build-up of dust mites and dead skin cells.
When Should You Say Goodbye to Your Favorite Sheets?
Unfortunately, even if you follow all these expert tips and wash sheets according to the rules, they won't last forever. The average life of sheets is about two years, according to most professionals including NBC News.
Mattress Clarity, House Beautiful, and Martha Stewart all agree that the best indicator for when your sheets need replacing is visible wear and tear, as well as how the sheets feel.
“Visible signs such as thinning, yellowing, and fading are the most obvious indicators your sheets are past their prime, but you might start to feel the decline as well, which can disrupt your oh-so-important sleep,” says the team at House Beautiful.
Martha Stewart agrees, saying that even the highest-quality sheets will eventually break down with frequent washing. When you start to signs of aging (stains, fraying, fading), replace them.
Update and Upgrade Your Sheets
We couldn't agree with Martha more! Find yourself a set of high-quality sheets that are not only easy to take care of but will give you the most luxurious, deep rest possible.
The Leesa Sheet Set is the perfect addition to your sleep sanctuary. Wrinkle-resistant and made from 500-thread-count sateen weave cotton, Leesa sheets are breathable, soft, and made to fit every mattress (but are specially designed for ours). Plus, they come with free shipping and returns and you can try them risk-free for 75 heavenly nights. What's more, we donate one set of sheets for every 75 sets we sell to 42nd Street Charity.
Start getting your best rest with Leesa. And for more bed care tips and tricks, check out our Resource Guide.
Is it OK to wash sheets once a month?
When you wash bed sheets on your washer's hottest setting, you kill dust mites and microorganisms and ensure that your sheets aren't hosting dust mite family reunions.
If you’re washing sheets once a month, you won't cause any harm, but sleeping in your own dirt could cause eczema, dermatitis, or dust allergies.
Each night, we sleep in the same bed, on the same side, inevitably causing the sheets to become dirty. Although you may not initially be concerned, sleeping on dirty sheets can negatively affect your health. Our bodies shed dead skin cells each night, inviting hungry dust mites into our beds. A combination of dead skin cells, oil from the body, and sweat can gradually cause bacteria and fungi to grow.
What happens if you don't wash your sheets?
You can develop a germ playground in your bed if you don't wash your bed sheets regularly. People who sleep nude, eat in bed, sleep with their children, sweat a lot at night, or sleep with pets might want to pay attention to this. Various factors contribute to bacteria buildup over time, including body oils, sweat, dead skin cells, and skin care products. As a result, these dirty sheets can cause skin problems like acne, rashes, and eczema. Additionally, the bacteria in sheets can cause open wounds to become infected. You also shed dead skin cells each night, providing an abundant food source for dust mites. Besides triggering seasonal allergies and asthma flare-ups, their droppings can also cause rashes.
Sheets can be washed whenever you wish, but we recommend you wash your sheets weekly.
How to wash sheets?
Use cold or warm water for most washes, but choose hot water to sanitize and help with allergies. Add your favorite brand of detergent to your washer. Use only half of the normal amount for a smaller load. If you use a liquid fabric softener, do it sparingly. Too much can cause buildup on your sheets. Dry your sheets on the lowest temperature setting to avoid shrinkage. For white sheets, use color-safe bleach to brighten.
What temperature to wash sheets?
Wash your sheets in cold or warm water. Use hot water for extra sanitizing.
How to wash blood out of sheets?
Try to get to the stain right away. The longer it sits, the harder it will be to get out. Soaking your sheets in cold water will prevent blood stains from setting into the fabric fibers. Add a little bit of detergent to cold water and mix until it is sudsy. Dip the stained spot into the detergent and scrub vigorously. Let the stain soak in the soapy water for at least an hour before finishing the washing cycle. The stain should dissolve or disappear altogether.