There are two types of people in this world: those who wash their sheets religiously and those who don’t. If you are in the first group, we applaud you. If you are in the group that tends to wash their sheets according to the lunar cycle, well, you are not alone, but you should be aware of the following if you have this habit.

According to a survey of 1,000 Americans, the average person washes their sheets every 24 days.

If this doesn’t seem like a problem to you, consider this: Each week you spend between 49 and 63 hours between your sheets, giving it plenty of time to accumulate sweat, oil, dirt, dead skin, germs and bacteria.

If you never wash your sheets, this you should know

If you still need more motivation to put those sheets in the laundry, read the following reasons why washing your bedding frequently is essential for good health.

Dust mites

You may not realize it, but you are constantly shedding dead skin cells all day. When you’re rolling in your bed at night, you’re shedding thousands of those little cells that pile up on your sheets.

Dust mites, tiny organisms that are almost invisible to the naked eye, love to feed on those cells, as well as the moisture and dust on your blankets. They can cause allergies, trigger asthma, and even make your eczema worse.

If you don’t wash your sheets constantly, these little organisms will continue to build up until you wake up itching all over.

Pet hair

If you love sleeping with your dog, you will have to be very attentive. The extra hair your dog or cat leaves behind makes your sheets an even more attractive environment for dust mites.

On top of that, pets can transmit other unwanted irritants like mites that actually burrow under the skin or a fungal infection called ringworm of the scalp.

Bacteria and Viruses

Remember all those dead cells, sweat, and saliva we talked about earlier? Well, not only is daytime slime on your pillowcase unpleasant in and of itself, but all of this makes your bed a perfect home for bacteria to grow.

One study found that after just one week, unwashed sheets contained between three and five million CFUs (colony-forming units) per square inch.

After four weeks, that number had grown to twelve million. The pillowcases after a week had more than seventeen thousand times the amount of bacteria in a toilet bowl. If you or your partner have been sick, it is even more important that those sheets are washed.

Flu viruses usually last about 15 minutes on a soft surface, but some insects can last up to four hours.


If you notice that your skin begins to look worse, it may be time to change your pillowcase. Dead skin cells, bacteria, and dirt can build up on that surface and clog pores, causing breakouts. If you have particularly acne-prone skin, you may want to change your pillowcase several times a week.


Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects that easily bite humans. Bed bugs are not attracted to the sheets but to you, which makes this a more difficult problem to tackle. They can be traced in your home and other places, like hotel rooms and bedrooms, and you’ll know you have them if you’re waking up with bites.

Washing your sheets in hot water is an effective way to kill them if they end up in your bed.

How to keep your sheets clean

Here are some ways you can keep your bed clean and bug free so you can rest easy each night:

Wash your pillows

While washing your pillowcase frequently is very important, it is also a good idea to wash your pillows. A good rule of thumb is to wash your pillow at least twice a year, just be sure to follow the directions on the label. This is the same for duvets and other bedspreads that you may have on your bed.

Change sheets more often if:

You sleep naked, sleep with your children or a pet, sweat a lot at night, or eat in bed.

Don’t make your bed right away

This may go against what your mother always told you, but if you remove the covers and let the moisture accumulated during the night dry for a few minutes, your bed will be a less attractive haven for bacteria and viruses.

How to properly wash your sheets

Wash your sheets at least once a week with the hottest water allowed on the label: the hotter the water, the better to disinfect your sheets. However, it will be more difficult on your sheets, so turn the pillowcases inside out to preserve the color.

For tougher stains or yellowing that has been there for a while, you may need something stronger than a clothing reinforcement. Instead, you can soak your sheets in a solution for a few hours before washing them. For example:

Put your sheets in a large bucket or in your bathtub and fill it with hot water until your sheets are completely submerged. Then add 1 ½ cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide and ½ cup of lemon juice. Another option is to add 1 cup of vinegar to the water. Make sure they are well mixed and then let them soak for a few hours.

Then wash as usual using:

Borax . Borax is a natural mineral that has been used for more than a century to help whiten, brighten, and deodorize clothing and sheets. You can add ½ cup to your regular wash. You can use baking soda instead of borax, too.

Dish soap . Dish soap is not used in place of your detergent, but as a booster for clothes. It’s great at breaking down oils, so it will help break down the body oils in your bedding that are causing the yellowing. Use a small amount along with the borax when starting your sheet wash cycle.

There are many great natural dish soaps on the market, so you can find one that is clean and free of chemicals.

Duvets and pillows should be washed every three to six months, and it’s even a good idea to sanitize your mattress at least a couple of times a year, too.

Don’t shake or shake any items on your bed when you remove or store them, it spreads germs. Wash with non-chlorine bleach in the hottest water possible and tumble dry on the hottest setting. The advantage is that they tend to make the duvets and pillows fluffier, just check the labels first.

It may seem like a difficult task to keep up with all this washing, but if you want your bed to be a cozy place to rest, rather than a safe haven for bacteria and to stay away from allergies and skin problems, it would be wise to follow these guidelines. .

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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