By Vinita Baravkar
On average, we spend around 45-60 hours in bed every week.
With that many hours spent in bed, it’s safe to say that our sheets accumulate a good amount of dirt, bacteria, germs and dead skin cells. This begs for regular washing.
However, a recent survey by Bhumi found that around 43% of people wash their sheets only once in two weeks or more.
So the golden question remains – how often should you wash your sheets?
In this article, you’ll learn how often you should wash your bedding, the benefits of clean bed sheets and how to wash them properly.
So sit back, get comfy inside the covers and read on.
Just the thought of sleeping on crisp, clean bed sheets should be enough to make us rush to the washing machine, dirty sheets in tow.
The truth is, there are countless benefits of having clean bedsheets.
Besides having sheets that smell great, here are just a few benefits of keeping your sheets clean:
Dust mites are a nuisance when you're sleeping. These unwanted visitors can disturb your sleep and eat away at your bedding. Washing your sheets regularly is one effective way to keep them at bay.
Dust mites can't survive in temperatures beyond 60°C as the high heat kills them.
So try to wash your sheets, blankets, pillowcases and duvet covers once a week or so for two weeks.
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart shares her advice for cleaning pillows with dust mites, too: "Set the machine to the gentlest cycle, using warm water; add a small amount of a mild liquid detergent (powder detergent may leave a residue), then fill the tub loosely with your pillows. Repeat the rinse cycle to remove detergent completely."
Clearly, Martha knows best.
Every day our skin sheds over 500 million dead cells.
This process happens more intensely at night when you're sleeping.
If you're sharing the bed with your partner, that's double the number of dead cells on your sheets.
And if you toss and turn in bed or sleep with no pyjamas on, there's additional shedding from your skin rubbing against the sheets. You get the picture.
Taking a night shower or sleeping with a clean pair of pyjamas can help decrease the amount of shedding.
But these are still precautionary measures.
The best way to avoid dead skin cells accumulating on your linen is to make sure you wash them regularly.
If you suffer from allergies or asthma, it's even more important for you to wash your sheets. Sleeping on dirty bed sheets infested with germs and dust mites will only trigger or flare up your symptoms.
Some of the symptoms include having red eyes, a blocked nose or excessive sneezing.
Equally important is to wash your linen and cotton bed sheets with hypoallergenic non-toxic detergents. These are gentle to sensitive skin and are free of phosphates and toxic dyes which can trigger symptoms.
Sleeping on fresh, clean bed sheets naturally improves the quality of your sleep, ensuring that you wake up relaxed and well-rested.
In a sleep survey conducted by Bhumi, over 90% of participants agreed that they noticed a visible difference in sleep quality between freshly-washed sheets and sheets that haven’t been washed in a while.
But that's not all.
Clean bed sheets also uplift your mood and mental health.
One study found that 54% of participants claimed that their mood and mindset changed for the better either on the day they changed their bedding or the day after.
We sweat a good amount during the day. And if we don’t shower, the sweat and body oils of our skin are transferred onto the sheets during the seven to nine hours we sleep (gross).
Our sweat is filled with bacteria and yeast. On top of that, some of us have a habit of drooling at night with our salvia containing similar organisms
If you don’t wash your sheets often enough, this bacteria can disrupt the balance in your microbiome, which is home to the ‘good’ bacteria and microbes in your body.
This can make you prone to skin conditions like acne or eczema. If your skin is inflamed by these or other skin conditions, the top layer won’t be able to protect itself from irritants and allergens, including dust mites.
It can result in bacterial folliculitis and fungal infections like ringworm.
As a rule of thumb, you should wash your sheets at least once a week.
We spend one-third of our lives sleeping in our beds. Not to mention all those hours spent snacking, playing video games, watching Netflix, and playing with our pets there too.
During this time, our bed sheets accumulate ample amounts of dirt, sweat, oils, grease, germs and pet hair, making our bedding a breeding ground for bacteria.
Hence, washing your sheets now and then becomes a must-do to maintain proper hygiene.
Even though experts agree with the principle that most people should wash their sheets once a week, this number is higher for some people.
For example, if you are a pet parent and let your fur babies play on the bed, you need to wash your sheets every 3-4 days.
How often you need to wash your sheets will also depend on the season. During summer, it becomes necessary to clean your sheets more often due to excessive sweating.
You can be slightly forgiving with your cleaning schedule during the winter months. Try to wash your sheets once in at least two weeks. Even though we sweat less during winter, our skin still conducts its usual shedding of dead skin cells.
Anything beyond two weeks will be an invitation to all kinds of skin irritations, bacterial infections, germ infestations — and just a sign of poor hygiene.
For those of you who are wondering — yes, it is possible to be allergic to bed sheets.
Some people are susceptible to allergies, in general. However, when it comes to bed sheets, the main cause of allergic reactions to them are dust mites, germs or mould (which find a comfortable home in every bed).
Dust mites can feed off discarded skin cells, which form common house dust. Plus, they multiply quite fast.
Oftentimes, bed sheets made with toxic synthetic chemicals can also trigger allergic reactions or asthma.
To counter these allergens, your best bet is to invest in hypoallergenic bed sheets.
What are hypoallergenic sheets?
The tight-weave structures of these sheets curb the dust mites’ ability to exist and reproduce effectively.
Bedding made from materials like organic cotton, hemp and organic linen is an excellent choice for hypoallergenic bedding.
Organic cotton deserves special mention in this regard.
Organic cotton sheets are one of the best hypoallergenic sheets available for several reasons.
Allergens like mould and mites multiply faster in damp conditions. Organic cotton sheets are immune to moisture buildup — aka they are extremely “breathable”.
Not to mention they are ultra soft, lightweight and very comfortable.
Something to keep in mind: not all organic cotton sheets are made equal. While they're all hypoallergenic, check the labels for whether they are short or long staple. The short-staple is less long-lasting than the other options, and may also be a bit coarser.
Bhumi's organic cotton bed sheets are hypoallergenic and non-toxic.
What's more, they are made using GOTS-certified long-staple organic cotton which is of a higher quality than conventional cotton.
Apart from hypoallergenic bedding, frequently washing your sheets is equally important if you suffer from allergic reactions or asthma.
Sleeping on dirty bedding can have serious health consequences like allergy attacks, breakouts and even asthma attacks. This happens due to flare-ups of symptoms.
To avoid this, make sure to wash your sheets at least twice a week. And always have separate bed sheets to use in between washing cycles.
You deserve to sleep in a bed that feels like a clean, cosy haven.
But clean bedding doesn't just mean clean sheets. Cleaning your pillowcases, quilt covers and blankets is equally essential for a good night's rest.
According to The Good Housekeeping, your quilts and pillow covers need proper laundering at least twice a year.
But we'd recommend washing them much more often.
Look for the care label instructions, if possible.
Most bedding brands provide guidelines that are generally applicable — except for a few that come with unique designs which require specific care and washing.
Mattresses should be cleaned once every 6 months. Cleaning helps extend the lifespan of your mattress, which in turn improves your sleep quality and hygiene.
To ensure you’re getting the best sleep possible, change your mattress every 6-8 years.
Here’s a table for your reference to see how often different bedding items need to be washed in a year.
|Quilt Covers||2 Weeks|
Different sheets require different things when it comes to washing.
No matter the fabric, the overall goal is to wash them in a way that maintains their quality for a long time.
The best thing you can do is put your organic linen bedding through a cold wash first before using.
To reach that ultimate soft state, the linen fibre sheds excess and unnecessary fibres in the first few washes.
If you want to speed up the process, pop the linen through a few extra cold washes to ensure the shedding happens as fast as possible and the fabric settles into that dreamy soft airy texture.
Overall, it may take up to 5 washes to achieve natural soft feel and shrinkage.
Below are the steps to wash:
Sort your linen bedding by colour. For best results, wash your linens with other natural fibres like organic cotton. Avoid mixing pale, white linen with darker colours.
Load the bedding into the washer in loose folds. Make sure not to overcrowd the washer, or else the linen sheets will come out with excessive wrinkles.
Before washing, pre-treat stains with a dab of liquid laundry detergent on the spot — gently rub it in with your fingers.
Wash your linen bedding in cold water on gentle cycle. It’s important to note that long washing cycles with high-speed spins result in more wrinkles.
Also, be sure to avoid high water temperatures as it can cause your linens to shrink.
Shake well before line drying to release any loose fibres.
You can hang your freshly-washed linen sheets on a drying rack for air drying.
Smooth out the hems and edges to avoid any wrinkles and help hold their shape.
Avoid direct sunlight as this can cause the colour to fade.
Do not tumble dry as the heat can damage the fabric and shrink the linen.
Creases will soften with your body warmth but if you need to, iron inside out on warm.
Bonus tip: Avoid using harsh detergents or bleaching agents on your linen sheets as it can damage the fabric. Use gentle, plant-based detergents instead.
Cotton, especially organic cotton, is a soft breathable fabric that's easy to care for and maintain.
These are the steps below to wash your organic cotton bed sheets.
First things first, remove the sheets from your bed.
Before tossing them into the washing machine, make sure to read the care label. They often have instructions on heat settings and universal symbols showing you how best to care for and wash your bedding.
Before you toss your sheets into the washer, look for any stains or spots. Often makeup, food and pets can leave marks on your clean sheets.
To remove, you can add a natural stain remover to aid in the wash cycle. A great example is lemon juice. Just pouring ¼ cup will work wonders to brighten your sheets and remove ugly stains, making it an excellent alternative to harsh bleach or a brightening chemical additive.
Next, place the sheets into the washer on their own. If there's room for more, you can toss in your pillow covers and quilt covers — as long as they're in the same colour as the sheet.
Always wash your sheets and towels separately. The coarseness of the towels works much like sandpaper — it causes the sheets to wear out faster. Moreover, towels also produce lint balls that end up sticking to the clean sheets.
Bonus tip: Avoid bundling too many items into the washer at once. If the machine is overloaded, the sheets might not get properly cleaned. Plus, it might even break the machine motor.
Once your sheets are tossed in and ready to be washed, it’s time to add the detergent.
Based on the load size, measure out the detergent and place it in the washer. Typically, a quarter-cup of liquid is enough for a regular-sized load.
Using too much detergent is a bad idea. This could weaken the cotton fibres and cause your sheets to wear out faster.
Avoid harsh detergents and fabric softeners (cotton sheets are already soft). No optical whiteners or bleaching agents as these can cause fading or damage to the fabric.
We'd recommend using plant-based non-toxic detergents like this one made with natural formulations that are gentle on your skin, hypoallergenic and good for the planet.
Usually, washing machines have so many features that it can feel overwhelming to decide which setting to select.
Some machines these days come with a pre-installed cycle for different types of bedsheets.
If yours doesn’t have a special sheet setting, select a gentle cycle for your organic percale, sateen, jersey or flannelette sheets and you're good to go.
As a general rule of thumb, washing cotton sheets in cold water at a temperature of 40 degrees is ideal.
In case of stains, go for a warm cycle with a temperature of not more than 105 degrees.
Once your sheets have been washed, it's time to dry them. Shake well before drying.
In case of organic cotton, percale, sateen, jersey sheets, avoid air drying in direct sunlight as it may cause the colour to fade.
Instead, you can use your tumble dryer in a low heat setting.
Creases will soften with your body warmth usually with Percale and Sateen. And Jersey is so soft that creases will not show.
But if you need to with any of the above, then iron your sheet inside out on a warm setting.
Bonus tip: Make sure your sheet is fully dry before storing away or putting back on the bed.
Brand-new sheets right out of the package might feel a bit rough from all the chemicals and synthetic dyes added during the manufacturing process.
Hence, it's always best to pre-wash sheets with baking soda and vinegar before use.
Once washed, the bed sheets are good to be used for years to come.
However, this doesn't apply to all sheets.
For example, some organic cotton sheets like these ones from Bhumi are made with zero toxic chemicals and synthetic dyes. Plus they come pre-washed for you to use immediately, saving you time and hassle.
Set a routine to get the washing done.
If you sleep with your partner or significant other, try to make it a shared responsibility instead of just one person’s task.
In Bhumi’s survey, over 43% of people said that washing the sheets was a single person’s responsibility.
We’d suggest mixing it up for a change.
When both people remember to do the chore, it increases the chances of getting it done. Plus, it’s an excellent example of partnership and collaboration – which will only strengthen your bond.
Heavy-duty detergents don’t do a better job than mild detergents for cleaning your sheets.
Here’s the kicker — excessive use of detergents can lock in harsh chemicals, preventing your sheets from ever feeling soft. Plus, it weakens the high-quality cotton fibres and wears out the fabric.
Use a gentle, plant-based detergent to extend your sheet's lifespan and keep them soft and durable.
Amid your busy schedule throughout the week, washing your sheets might be the last thing on your mind. And you’re not alone.
Bhumi’s survey found that over 63% of people are more likely to wash their sheets over the weekend. If this is you, great.
But if you’re having trouble following up with the chore, keeping a diary might help.
Take note of any symptoms you have throughout the month (allergies, skin breakouts, eczema, asthma). Now note how long it’s been since your sheets were last cleaned.
Dirty sheets and allergic reactions often have a direct correlation and can affect your overall health. Maintaining a diary or journal will help motivate you to do something about it and keep you on track.
Always have a pair of extra sheets and bedding sets in hand.
This gives you more options to choose from when one of your bedding goes for the wash every week.
Plus, it gives you more freedom to experiment with your bedroom décor and style throughout the year.