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If we are getting the rest we should, then we are spending around eight hours each day in bed. This means that for eight hours we are transferring oil, sweat, and dead skin cells among other substances onto our bed sheets. While the bed sheet might still look clean after several nights, it could most likely do with a round in the washing machine.

So how often should you wash your bed sheet? The recommended schedule for washing your bed sheet is once a week. However, some people would benefit from washing their bed sheets even more often.

Continue reading to learn more about how often you should wash your bed sheet and why regular washing is important. We also share with you the best practice for washing your bed sheet for best results.

What is the Best Schedule for Washing Your Bed Sheet?

Most people wash their bedding, including their bed sheets every two weeks but according to many experts, this is not often enough for bed sheets. According to the experts, weekly washings are better because your bed sheet accumulates a lot of stuff that is invisible to the naked eye just within a week.

What Is in Your Bed

What Is in Your Bed?

There are many things in our beds that we cannot see, ranging from dead skin cells to dust mites and bed bugs. If bedding is not cleaned regularly, it can cause problems such as asthma, allergies, rashes, and eczema.

Dead Skin Cells

On average, each person sheds about half a teaspoon of dead skin cells every day. Much of the dead skin cells are shed during the night while you are asleep. This happens because the friction between the sheets and your skin will chafe off the outer layer of the skin and loosen dead cells.


Bacteria found in our bedding thrive on the dead skin cells you have shed in your bed. The skin cells offer them the perfect breeding ground and the bacteria will make your bed sheets, mattress, and pillows their home.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny critters with eight legs. They are relative to spiders and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Like the bacteria in your bed, dust mites like to feed on your dead skin cells.

You may have as many as one million dust mites in your bed feeding on dead skin cells. While dust mites will not bite, because they have no mouths or teeth, they can still cause health issues. And if you have dust mites, you will also have their feces and carcasses in your bed.

Bed Bugs

Unlike dust mites, bed bugs can bite and leave you itching. Some people may have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites. It is very easy to get bed bugs in your home where they can live in any soft furnishings, your walls, floors, and wooden furniture as well as in your bed. You might have brought them in with you if you have, for example, stayed in a hotel, been to a cinema or another public place, or bought a piece of second-hand furniture.

Pet Dander

If your pet dog or cat sleeps in your bed, they could bring with them parasites and infections that could transfer to you. They may cause skin issues, infections such as ringworm, or infestations such as scabies. In addition, your pets could bring in dirt, litter, and feces from outdoors on their paws.

What Else Will Stick to Your Bedding?

In addition to dead skin, dust mites, bed bugs, and a range of bacteria, your bedding, in particular your sheet and pillowcases, will collect bodily fluids such as sweat, oil, and saliva. You may also get makeup, lotions, and oils from your face and body on your sheet and pillowcases even if you always wash your makeup off before going to bed.

Potential Consequences of Not Washing Your Bed Sheets Often Enough

You might develop allergic symptoms if you do not wash your bed sheets often enough. You could be allergic to dust mites, which can cause itchy skin, trigger asthma, or make seasonal allergies worse.

Some of the bacteria living in your bed can also cause skin rashes. In people who have eczema, bedding bacteria could make the condition worse since the bacteria will get on your skin when you get into bed.

Sharing your bed with dust mites can cause breathing issues, including whistling and wheezing. This is especially likely if you have asthma already. In others, sleeping in a bed riddled with bacteria and dust mites can lead to folliculitis, an irritation, inflammation, or infection of the hair follicle.

Should You Wash Your Bed Sheet More Often?

While washing the bed sheet weekly is frequent enough for most people, others may need to wash it more often. Consider washing your bed sheets and pillowcases more regularly if:

  • you have a pet that sleeps in your bed
  • you eat in bed
  • you sweat a lot during the night
  • you go to sleep without having a shower first
  • you sleep naked
  • you have asthma or allergies that make you more sensitive to dust
  • you have a lesion or infection that makes contact with your pillows or sheets

If any or several of the above points apply to you or your family members, consider washing your sheets and pillowcases every three to four days. Your duvet cover does not need to be washed as often unless you sit on top of your duvet cover during the day. If you do, it may collect more bacteria and allergens than it would if you just slept in your bed and may need more regular washings.

Even if you do not have or do any of the above, you might still like to wash your bedding more often during the summer when you are likely to sweat more. Consider this especially if you live in an area where summers are hot and humid. Washing your bedding more often can also help relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as hay fever.

How to Wash Your Bed Sheet For Best Results

How to Wash Your Bed Sheet For Best Results

You should always wash your sheets and other bedding in as hot water as possible. The hotter the wash, the more allergens and bacteria it will remove. If your bed sheets have stains, treat them first before washing using, for example, a prewash stain remover. Do not overfill your washing machine because the sheets need to have room to circulate or they will not wash properly.

Your washing machine may have a dedicated cycle for washing bed sheets if it is a newer model. Otherwise, choose the normal cycle on your washing machine. A colour cycle will work, too. These cycles will be gentler on your bed sheets than heavy-duty progammes. Often, they will also gradually cool the water towards the end of the wash cycle to reduce wrinkling.

Always Read the Care Label

Note that not all bedding, such as silk pillowcases or sheets, can be washed in a washing machine and will need to be handwashed. Bed sheets made with a mix of natural and synthetic materials might also have different care instructions from natural materials such as linen or Egyptian cotton. That is why you should always check the care label, especially when washing your bed sheets or any other bedding for the first time.

Avoid Fabric Softeners

While fabric softeners and drier sheets can leave washing feeling softer, avoid using them with your bed sheets and covers. The softeners can leave residue on them, which will decrease their absorbency and breathability. As the residue builds up over time, you can end up feeling too hot in your sheets.

Drying Your Sheets

If you are using a tumble drier on your sheets and other bedding, always use a low heat setting and do not over-dry them. This will make them more wrinkly and may even shrink some types of bed sheets.

You also want to keep different materials separate as they have different drying speeds. While it might be tempting to stuff as much as possible into the drier to save time, you can easily end up with your sheets drying too much, while other items may not have dried enough.

While tumble drying may be the preferred option for speed, letting your sheets air dry can be beneficial since it can reduce wrinkling. You should also let them air dry out in the sunshine during warm months as the sunlight will help eliminate dust mites, bed bugs, and bacteria.

Ironing Bed Sheets and Other Bedding

If you are not yet ironing your bed sheets, covers, and pillowcases, consider doing it. The heat and steam from the iron can help get rid of any remaining unwanted bed companions. Ironing your bedding before it has fully dried will get rid of wrinkles more easily.

How to Keep Bed Sheets Clean Between Washings

To help keep your bedding clean, you can have a shower before you get into bed and avoid putting on creams, lotions, or oils too close to bedtime. Remove all makeup carefully before sleeping and do not have naps in your bed after sweaty exercise sessions.

Remove dirt and debris from your feet or bed socks before you get into bed and keep your pets off your sheets. That includes during the day as well as at night. And finally, avoid drinking or eating in your bed.

How Often Does Other Bedding Need to Be Washed?

You should wash your pillowcases as often as you wash your bed sheets. That is once a week or more often. The best practice is to wash your pillowcases and sheets at the same time. Your duvet covers do not accumulate as many things so they only need washing twice or once a month.

If you use comforters or blankets on your bed, wash these every two to three months. Pillows, as long as they are not memory foam pillows, should be washed two to three times per year. Memory foam pillows should be spot-cleaned and hoovered.

You also need to clean your mattress, which can improve the quality of your sleep, be beneficial to your health, and extend the lifespan of your mattress. You should clean your mattress twice a year.

Not holding onto your pillows, duvets, and mattresses for too long is also better for your sleep and health. Pillows need to be replaced at least every two years, while duvets can last up to twenty years as long as they are used with a duvet cover and cleaned regularly. Most mattresses in Canada need replacing every six to eight years. However, some memory foam mattresses can last longer, up to fifteen years.


Bed sheets together with pillowcases should be washed at least once a week since they can accumulate dead skin cells, bed bugs, bacteria, and dust mites as well as oil, sweat, and other debris from our skin.

It is best to wash bed sheets with as hot water as possible to remove as many allergens and bacteria as possible. However, always check the care label as some may need to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Always wash your bed sheets at as high water temperature as the care label allows. The hot water will help eliminate more bacteria, dust mites, and bed bugs than cooler water.

Bed sheets should be washed at least once a week. Some people will need to wash them more often, every three to four days. You should wash them more often if you have allergies, sweat a lot, have pets sleeping in your bed, eat or drink in your bed, wear makeup in bed, or do not have a shower before getting into bed.

While you should wash your pillowcases as often as your sheets, not all bedding needs to be washed as often. Wash your duvet covers once or twice per month and your blankets and comforters every two to three months.