How Often Should You Wash Your Bedding?
5 min read
Last Modified 9 February 2023 First Added 14 January 2020
The short answer to the bedding washing question is – it depends. Sheets need to be washed more regularly than pillows and duvets, for example. The answer also hinges upon your lifestyle. If you allow pets in your bed or you eat in bed, you’ll need to wash your bedding more often. The same applies if you have allergies. However, if you use protectors you may not need to wash parts of your bedding as regularly. There are many factors involved in answering the question, but what doesn’t change is that keeping your bedding clean is vital for hygienic reasons.
Unfortunately, your bedding doesn’t stay clean for long and you end up harbouring all sorts of unwanted guests in bed with you – much of them you can’t see either. Think dirt, sweat, body oils, skin cells, and dust mites. They all build up. Dust mites are so small, they aren’t visible to the naked eye. They feed on dead skin cells, but they don’t bite. However, they can cause allergic reactions.
How to and how often to wash your bedding differs for each person and for each type of bedding. However, there are some basic ideals to try to stick to:
Although a poll by the National Sleep Foundation in 2012 found that 91% of people change their sheets every other week, this is not enough. Sheets should be changed and washed once a week, although other factors may affect this.
As time can be an issue when trying to change your sheets every week, ensure you have several sets. That way when you change your bedding, you don’t have to wait around for the ones you have taken off to wash and dry.
When washing your sheets, be sure to wash at least 60 °C. Washing at any lower temperatures will get rid of any dirt, but it will not kill pathogens, You’ll just be giving dust mites a bath at lower temperatures. Drying bedding in sunlight is also a good idea, if you can, as the UV light helps to kill micro-organisms.
Always be sure to check the care instructions on the label though before washing, as there might be precautions that you need to watch out for.
Duvets should be washed at least twice a year. Check that your duvet is machine washable and your machine’s drum capacity before washing your duvet at home though. This might be one for a launderette or dry cleaner.
Another factor is to make sure that you dry your duvet as quickly as possible. This is especially important if they have a natural fibre filling, as they hold moisture and can become smelly if they’re left damp.
Like duvets, pillows should be washed at least twice a year. However, as up to a third of the weight of your pillow can be made up of dead skin, bugs, dust mites and more, a more regular wash can be beneficial. In fact, an average unwashed pillow can contain sixteen species of fungi. Therefore washing every three months is a good idea. It can also be a good idea to choose hypoallergenic pillows which will massively improve hygiene.
Make sure you wash your pillows at a minimum of 60 °C and, like duvets, dry them quickly and thoroughly.
Mattress protectors help to extend the life of your mattress and so should be cared for too. It is recommended that you wash a mattress protector every two months. Though you may need to wash this more often if spillages occur, or if you allow pets on the bed.
Depending on the filling of your mattress, you may be able to give your mattress a clean by vacuuming it. Though be sure to check the manufacturer’s care guide for your mattress. Just be sure to use an upholstery attachment and use the lowest suction setting. If your care instructions for your mattress allow this, vacuum every couple of months. You can also clean your bed frame too.
Keep in mind though, regardless of cleaning, we recommend changing your mattress every eight years.
If you can’t find the time to change and wash your bedding as often as you’d like, there are ways to help keep your sheets clean between washing, such as:
Although this will not kill any germs or dust mites, it will help to keep your bedding feeling clean in between washes.
Now we’ve looked at how often you should change your bedding, let’s look at how often the nation actually changes its bedding in 2022. Our Sleep Survey revealed the average amount of times people change their bedding each week and a breakdown of their geographical area:
In summary, for optimum cleanliness, you should wash sheets once a week, or at the very least every two weeks; mattress protectors every couple of months; pillows every three months; and duvets a couple of times a year.