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How Often to Replace Sheets, Pillows and Other Bed Linens

Well made bed.
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
Jessica Schramm for Parachute
@parachutehome
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Is there any greater feeling than sliding into a bed made with fresh linens — or better yet, new bedding, pillows and a duvet? You can buy new bedding whenever you feel the urge to switch things up. But if you're like a lot of people, you might be wondering just how long the materials last.

Read on for a breakdown of how often to replace sheets and other bed essentials, as well as tips on making your bedding last longer.

Knowing When to Refresh Your Bedding

Washing your bedding regularly keeps it hygienic and helps it last. And yet, just like your favorite t-shirt and most beloved pair of sneakers, there comes a time when your bed linens need to be replaced. Think about it: the time you spend using the materials is almost like wearing the same clothes every day for several years. Sooner or later, they'll lose their original integrity.

You'll eventually reach a point when the fabrics wear down and sweat and body oils won't wash out anymore. With inserts, it's an issue of dust mites, hair particles and an accumulation of dead skin cells that harbor in your bed. Beyond an ick factor, this can be a problem for people with dust or dander allergies. Pillows, comforters, mattress protectors, toppers and anything else containing padding or fill will eventually lose volume and no longer provide the support they once did.

So, replacing your bedding and inserts is a matter of both hygiene and functionality. But exactly how long should you keep each item? Here's how often to replace pillows, comforters, sheets, duvet covers and mattress protectors.

pretty clean white bedding

How Often to Replace Sheets

Sheets and pillowcases have the most direct contact with your skin throughout the night. For this reason, they need to be washed more often and will generally break down quicker than other bedding materials.

Sheet lifespan depends on the material and whether it's used daily, bi-weekly or seasonally. If you use a sheet set every day of the year, you'll need to replace it after about two years. However, luxury cotton sheets, like percale and sateen, can offer another year or so of use. And with linen, you'll get three to five years — sometimes more. If you switch your sheets out every other week or use an insulating set in the winter and cooling bedding in the summer, you can expect the fabric to last twice as long.

Check out Parachute’s Guide to Bed Sheets for guidance on fabric selection, as well as when and how to change sheets.

How Often to Replace a Duvet Cover

Now that you know how often to replace sheets, let's talk about when to get a new duvet cover. As mentioned, sheets typically wear down faster than other bedding materials. If you use a top sheet, the fabric between your skin and the cover helps it stay fresh longer.

Also, you might be able to wash your duvet cover every other week to help extend its lifespan. And if your sham pillows are used only for decoration, they'll see hardly any wear and tear. For these reasons, duvet sets often last five years or more.

Of course, this depends on the level of use and the material. For instance, high-quality linen, brushed cotton, percale and sateen duvet covers from Parachute are designed to last for several years. What's more, they actually get softer with time.

How Often to Replace Pillows

Knowing how often to replace pillows will help you minimize allergens in your bed and maximize support. The bed pillows you sleep with will generally last between one to two years. (Decorative and sham pillow lifespans are often quite a bit longer.) And with proper care, you can get a few more years of use out of well-made down and down alternative options.

While they're partially protected by pillowcases, sweat can still seep through and stain your pillows. (If you've ever noticed your pillows turning a yellowish hue, this is why.) Also, they can be tricky to clean and will lose their plushness over time.

Neck pain? Shoulder tension? Back stiffness? Your old pillow might be the culprit. If you use a specific type to accommodate your preferred sleeping position, buying a new one every year or two will ensure you continue to get the support you crave.

For more insight on when and how to change pillows and pillowcases, check out the Pillowcase and Sham Guide from Parachute.

How Often to Replace Duvets

Guidance on how often to change duvets isn't as straightforward as other bedding materials. Depending on the fill, the quality of the stitching and the level of use, a duvet lifespan can be anywhere from five to 25 years.

Since your comforter doesn't support the weight of your head or body like your pillows and mattress, the fill material doesn't wear down as quickly. Comforters meant to be used without a cover generally don't last as long as inserts that go into a protective duvet cover. When you invest in a duvet insert with dependable construction and top-quality fill, you can expect two or more decades of use.

How Often to Replace Mattress Protectors

A mattress protector is designed to safeguard your mattress from stains, dust and sometimes bed bugs. The quilted material goes on like a fitted sheet.

You should replace it when it no longer does its job. But since it's not always obvious when a mattress protector is on its last leg, switching yours out every two years is a good rule of thumb. And if it becomes stained or has holes before the two-year mark, go ahead and spring for a new one.

What Bedding Materials Last the Longest?

The materials and methods used to make bedding partially determine how often to replace sheets, duvets and pillows. If you want to invest in products that last, go with linen, percale, sateen or brushed cotton for your fabrics and down or down alternative for your inserts.

Linen

Known for its laid-back elegance, linen is a super-sturdy, long-lasting textile woven from the fibers of flax plants.

Percale

Reminiscent of five-star hotel bedding, cool and crisp percale is a durable fabric made from long-staple Egyptian cotton.

Sateen

Loomed from long-staple Egyptian cotton with a complex satin-style weave, sateen is a lustrous bedding fabric with a subtle sheen. With the right care, this naturally long-lasting material will remain suitable for your sleeping quarters for years. 

Learn more about the best methods to care for your sateen sheets in Parachute’s How to Wash Sateen Guide.

Brushed Cotton

Similar to flannel but more lightweight, brushed cotton is a buttery-soft, slightly insulating textile with an undeniably cozy feel.

Down

Down pillows and comforters are filled with extra-soft, fine, airy fibers sourced from the undercoats of geese and ducks.

Down Alternative

Engineered to mimic the lofty, fluffy appeal of real down, down alternative is a feather-like microfiber material used to fill duvets, pillows and quilted bedding materials.

How often to replace pillows and comforters also has to do with the stitching. With Parachute, you can count on down and down alternative products in 100% cotton shells with reliable baffle-box or box-stitch construction.

To learn more about both down and down alternatives as you choose which is most suitable for you, check out the Down Vs Down Alternative Guide by Parachute.

How to Make Your Bedding Last Longer

The best way to ensure a long lifespan for your bedding is to invest in high-quality materials. But beyond that, proper washing and storage are essential.

Cleaning

You should wash any fabrics that come into direct contact with your skin every seven to ten days, including your sheets, pillowcases and potentially your duvet cover. You can wash a mattress protector just as often or every other time. Your pillows and duvet insert should be cleaned every three to six months.

Cold water is typically recommended for cotton bedding, as it's the gentlest and prevents shrinking. You can wash linen with warm or cold water. For all bedding, avoid using hot water, opt for a mild laundry detergent and consider air-drying the materials. If you decide that you’d prefer to run your bedding through the dryer, use a low heat setting to avoid faded coloring and brittle materials, and use wool dryer balls rather than dryer sheets to keep your sheets soft and reduce status (and if you’re wondering, yes, dryer balls really work.)

Storage

If your linens go right back on your bed after laundering them, you won't have to worry about storing them correctly. However, if you rotate sets, you'll want to keep them in a cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation. Additionally, storing bedding in a cloth bag is best, as it keeps dust out while allowing the fabric to breathe. Plastic bins aren't recommended.

Take a look at our blog, How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding, for more details on maintenance.

Signs It's Time for New Bedding

Guidelines on how often to replace sheets and other materials aren't one-size-fits-all. Some bedding will need to be replaced sooner than later, while other materials can hold up for a decade or more. So, how do you know when it's time to get a fresh set?

You should probably replace your bedding if:

  • The fabric has holes, tears or frays 

  • You notice yellowing

  • The fill is coming out

  • The seams are splitting

  • You're unable to re-fluff your pillows

  • You notice an odor, even out of the wash

  • The materials have lost their cooling or insulating abilities

  • You aren't sleeping as well as you used to

  • You wake up with respiratory problems, itchy skin, a stuffy nose or other allergic reactions

  • You wake up with stiffness or pain in your neck or back

The bottom line? Your bedding shouldn't affect your sleep or your health. Investing in well-made products sourced from the finest materials is important, but knowing how often to replace pillows and bed linens is another critical piece of the puzzle.

Where to Buy Long-Lasting Bedding

If your bedding has seen better days and you're ready to invest in materials made to last, you've come to the right place. Parachute carries luxury sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers at affordable prices, including carefully-loomed percale with its high-end appeal, sumptuous and drapey sateen, ultra-soft and cozy brushed cotton and easy-breezy, endlessly breathable linen. Made in Portugal from the finest plant fibers, these naturally derived textiles become softer and comfier over time.

When you browse the selection, you'll also find thoughtfully crafted down and down alternative pillows, duvets, mattress protectors and other inserts. Whether it's quilting, box stitch or baffle box, each piece features durable stitching and long-lasting construction.

Ready to upgrade your sleeping quarters? Shop bedding essentials from Parachute today.