Be honest: when was the last time you changed your sheets? Last week? Last month? Can’t remember?
There’s nothing like the smell of fresh sheets when you fall into bed at night. In fact, some research suggests they might help you sleep better – but we get it, the whole change-wash-dry-fold process can be tedious.
Thankfully, there’s a happy medium between endless washing and bed-bug city.
This is what happens if you don’t change your sheets
We spend one third of our time in bed, and Stan Atanasov from Paul’s Cleaning Melbourne says a whole range of unpleasant things can wind up in our sheets – everything from dead skin cells, body oil, sweat and grime, to bacteria, flu viruses, dust mites, bed bugs, makeup remains, food crumbs and pet ‘residue’.
It doesn’t matter how clean you think you are or if you shower before bed. Yuck.
“Washing your bedding is simply better for your health,” says Atanasov. “Not washing your sheets frequently can lead to allergies, sickness and infections.”
When to change your sheets
Changing your sheets once a week is a healthy habit, says Atanasov. “There’s no rule about how frequently you should change your sheets, but it’s a good idea to do it at least once a week,” he says. “If your schedule is busy, try not to postpone it for more than two weeks.”
Maria Said, CEO of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, agrees that leaving it for longer than a fortnight is too long. “Once a fortnight or once a month is really stretching it from a hygiene perspective.”
It’s especially important to change your sheets weekly if you suffer from an allergic disease like hay fever.
“It’s a growing problem and we really need to be doing what we can to decrease exacerbations of allergic conditions,” says Said. “They can’t be cured so we need to reduce the allergen load, and washing sheets is part of that.”
See more: How to clean a washing machine
How to wash your sheets
Turn your sheets inside out and roll them into a ball to help retain the colour integrity, says Atanasov. “Wash your sheets at 60 degrees Celsius, as this temperature is better for killing germs,” he says. “Use a washing detergent of your choice, and you can also add fabric softener. Hang your bedding to air dry.”
If allergies are a problem for you, use a dryer. “We encourage people to dry their sheets in the dryer rather than outside where the sheets will collect pollen, which can trigger allergic conditions,” says Said.
Originally published as How often should you change your sheets? by Angela Tufvesson.