Surveys state at least a third of us don’t wash our bed sheets more than every two weeks – but how often should we really be doing this and why?
Even if you get less than the required eight hours sleep each night, you’re probably spending around 50 hours every week in bed. That’s a lot of dirt, sweat, skin and more that will accumulate under the covers every night.
The longer you leave it, the more chance there is for bacteria and dust mites to set up home amongst your sheets and on your pillows. This can lead to allergies, asthma flare-ups and conjunctivitis.
So, the question of how often to change bed sheets is important not only for a good night’s sleep but also a healthy one.
With more and more mites, dirt and bacteria building up every time you snuggle under the covers, it’s advisable that you wash and change your bed sheets, duvet cover and pillowcases every week.
Bed sheets should be washed at a higher temperature to ensure germs are completely removed – 60 degrees is best. Be careful not to overload your machine and just wash your bedding separately from your clothes laundry. Many gentle or eco detergents are very efficient and won’t damage your sheets as much as strong bleaches and detergents.
When it comes to drying your bed linens, air drying is best as the sun’s UV rays help to keep bacteria at bay. Of course, that’s not always possible, especially in the cold British winters, so if you do tumble dry your bed sheets, keep the temperature cool to avoid damaging the fibres.
If you have a few sets of bed linen on rotation, keep the fresh ones stored in a linen cupboard or storage container to protect them from damp and keep moths away.
You might be feeling pleased that you already have a weekly laundry schedule in place for your bedding. But do you remember the last time you paid the same attention to your pillows and duvet?
Dust mites and dead skin are lurking amongst the fillings, so it’s time to throw your bedding on a hot wash and get rid of your nasty bedtime neighbours.
If the washing instructions allow, and your machine has a big enough drum, you can easily wash your pillows and duvets at home. Otherwise, take them to the laundrette for specialist cleaning and larger machines.
As with your bed sheets, a 60 degree wash is best to ensure you kill off mites and bacteria. It’s advisable to use a little less detergent than normal and run an extra rinse on your washing cycle as the fluffy fibres can hold on to soap suds.
Tumble dry your bedding straight away to avoid mildew and add a couple of laundry balls to the load to keep them from getting lumpy.
If you follow our tips on keeping your bed sheets and pillows clean and properly cared for, they can last for years. Regular washing and drying are necessary to keep germs away, but it does take a toll on both synthetic and natural fibres eventually. When you’re doing the weekly wash, check for any signs of thinning fabric, holes, fraying or discolouration.
If you think your bedding is looking a little worse for wear after a few years, it’s time to buy new sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases.
Of course, you don’t need to wait to treat yourself to a new bedroom setup. If you’re redecorating or have recently bought a new bed or mattress, it’s a great time to change your bed linens and choose a new pattern or colour scheme that suits you.
You should also think about replacing your pillows every one to two years, and your duvet every five years.
It’s good for both your health and your wellbeing to keep bed sheets fresh and clean – and changing your duvet, pillows and buying new sheets regularly will help you maintain happy, healthy sleep.