Research shows only about a third of people change their sheets as often as they should. And some go way too long between washes — sometimes sleeping on unwashed bed linens for months at a time.
Proper bedding care is essential not just for preserving the materials, but also for your health and hygiene. So how often should you wash sheets? You'll learn that below, along with answers to frequently asked questions about laundering bed linens.
How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?
You should wash your sheets about once a week. Like laundering your clothes and towels, this ensures your bed linens stay fresh and you're always sleeping in a clean, nice-smelling bed. Plus, lots of people do laundry weekly anyway, so this is a good opportunity to get everything done at once.
Why Once a Week?
Why not wash your sheets every two weeks? The weekly recommendation of how often to wash sheets isn't an exact science. Still, cleaning your bedding regularly and frequently prevents buildup of dirt, sweat, dead skin cells, body oils, bacteria, and other unhygienic, odor-causing substances.
Of course, you might not be able to see this buildup — at least, not until it begins discoloring your bedding. But trust us, it's there, and it's not something you want to sleep in.
Some experts may recommend washing your sheets every seven to 10 days — though any longer usually isn't advised. Weekly washing ends up being a more practical rule of thumb because most people do laundry once a week anyway.
Why Some People Launder Their Sheets More Often Than Weekly
Believe it or not, some people wash their sheets (or at least change them out for a fresh set) more often than once a week. Why? A few reasons.
Those with asthma or seasonal allergies may want to clean their bedding more often to remove pollen, dust, and other irritants that could aggravate their symptoms. Additionally, if you or your partner have been sick, it's a good idea to wash your sheets when you're feeling better (or potentially sooner) to keep germs and bacteria out of the bed.
Someone's lifestyle or profession may give them reason to wash their sheets more often. For instance, construction workers and other folks with outdoor jobs may want to prevent dirt from getting into their beds. Similarly, athletes might want to change their bedding a couple of times a week to keep sweat stains and body odors at bay.
And some opt to change their pillowcases multiple times a week for skincare purposes. The idea is to minimize potentially pore-clogging body oils and acne-causing bacteria.
Some people swear by silk pillowcases for smooth, clear, crease-free skin. Read our blog to learn about the differences between Sateen vs. Satin vs. Silk.
The Importance of Regularly Washing Your Sheets
You probably don't need to be told to wear clean clothes every day — or why that’s important. The same should go for sleeping in clean bedding. But just so we're on the same page, let's go over the importance of regularly washing your sheets.
In addition to prolonging the lifespan of your bedding, washing your sheets helps eliminate buildup of dirt, sweat, dead skin cells, oil, makeup, skincare residues, haircare products, dust, pollen, and bacteria. Beyond the ick factor, this hygienic practice is simply good for your health.
After a couple of weeks, unwashed sheets may begin to smell funky, while the buildup of various residues might irritate your skin or aggravate your allergies. According to the American Lung Association, dust mites can live off dead human skin cells. While both the mites and the cells are invisible to the naked eye, this is something you definitely don't want in your bed. Washing your sheets weekly can help prevent it.
It's Not Hard
Frequent washing may seem like an inconvenient chore — and well, it kind of is. But once you get into a habit of it, you might feel weird not washing your sheets once a week. After a while, it'll become part of how you prepare for the week ahead. And pretty much everyone can agree how nice it feels to sleep in freshly washed bedding.
Consider Getting a Second Set of Sheets
Not up for weekly washing? Consider getting an extra set of sheets. That way, you can strip your bed and change the sheets in one fell swoop and have the other set ready for the following week.
Of course, you'll need somewhere to keep your alternating bed linens. Read our article to learn How to Organize Your Linen Closet.
How Often to Wash Other Bedding Essentials
Now that you know how often to wash sheets, you might be wondering how often to clean other bedding essentials. Find a breakdown of the recommended washing frequency for each piece below.
Pillowcases: Weekly (or more often for skincare purposes)
Duvet Cover: Weekly (or potentially every two weeks if you use a top sheet)
Duvet Insert: Every two or three months
Bed Pillows: Every three or four months
Can You Wash Pillows? Read our blog for answers and insight.
FAQs: How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?
Find answers to frequently asked questions about how often to wash bed sheets below.
What Happens If You Don't Wash Your Sheets Often?
It's impossible to say for sure what'll happen if you don't wash your sheets often. And the truth is, maybe nothing. However, sleeping in unwashed, soiled bedding exposes you to a buildup of bacteria, dust, pollen, and potentially pet dander, which can be gross at best and irritating or sick-making at worst.
Is It OK to Wash Bed Sheets Once a Month?
It depends on what you mean by OK. Will anything bad happen to you? Maybe not. But if you're dealing with allergies, asthma, a viral illness, acne, or other skin issues, it's in your best interest to wash your sheets weekly or at least once every 10 days.
How Often Should You Change Your Sheets If You Shower Before Bed?
The general recommendation for everyone is once a week. And even if you bathe before hopping under the covers, the short answer is still once a week. Just because you clean your skin and hair before bed doesn't prevent sweat, body oils, and dead skin from rubbing off onto the fabric.
Now that you're up to speed on how often to wash sheets, see our guide on How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding.
Should You Wash New Sheets Before Using Them?
It might not hurt to sleep on brand-new sheets before washing them. However, if you have particularly sensitive skin, it might be wise to launder them prior to the first use. Sheets are typically made in factories, where they could be exposed to various invisible irritants and substances, and it doesn't hurt to toss them in the wash just to be safe.
Check out our guide on How Often to Replace Sheets, Pillows, and Other Bed Linens.
High-Quality Bed Linens and Inserts From Parachute
Ready to treat yourself to a fresh set of sheets? Parachute is your resource for high-quality, ethically-made bed linens sourced from natural materials. Browse the bedding collection today.