How Often Should You Wash your Sheets

Crawling into a bed with crisp, clean sheets is a nice feeling that assures you of proper sleep health. But getting into a cesspool of bacteria can cause you unfathomable health problems. Dirty bed sheets usually contain body oils, dead skin cells, sweat, pet dander, and many other things. Fortunately, washing bed sheets regularly can help eliminate all this gunk and help you sleep better.

How often should you wash your sheets to maintain a healthy sleep surface? The short answer is every week.

Most bedding experts recommend washing your bed sheets either weekly or every other week. It all depends on how you use your sheets and the state of your environment.

In this article, we'll outline how to get the most out of your sheets by washing them properly, and on the best schedule.

How to Wash Sheets

Before tossing your sheets into the washer, first read the care instructions keenly to protect your bed sheets from damage.

Care instructions for different sheets depend on many factors, like the fabric material. However, generally a detergent and a typical wash cycle may be sufficient for washing your sheets. Below are simple steps for effectively washing your sheets.

Remove the Sheets From the Mattress

Remove your sheets from the mattress, then as previously recommended, check the labeling and cleaning instructions. Be careful with temperature settings to avoid washing and drying the sheets under low or high heat settings than recommended. The wrong settings can tear the sheets or weaken the fabric.

Toss the Sheets into the Washer

You can wash your sheets together with other clothes. However, it's better to wash them separately to prevent damage. When tossing sheets into the washer, avoid stuffing them to the brim. Depending on how big and heavy your sheets are, you can wash two or three at a time. That way, they can wash effectively. If there's still space after putting the sheets into the washer, you can add a few clothes of the same color as the sheets. Stuffing too many clothes or sheets into the machine may also strain the washer's motor, which may cause a malfunction.

Avoid washing the sheets together with your bath towels. The roughness of bath towels may accelerate your sheets' wear and tear, compromising their durability since the towels act as sandpaper against the sheets. Also, towels are most likely to produce lint balls that may cover the sheets during the wash cycle. 

Add Some Detergent

Depending on the size of the load, you should be conservative while pouring in the detergent. Here's a quick guide;

  • For a regular load, use 2 ounces of liquid laundry detergent
  • For heavily soiled loads, use 4 ounces of liquid laundry detergent

The way you need to follow the care instructions for cleaning your sheets—is the same way you are to follow the instructions on the liquid detergent packaging. So, no matter how soiled your dirty sheets are, don't add too much detergent. Excess detergent can cause the sheets to wear out more quickly. Also, be sure to use a detergent that doesn't have bleaching agents unless your sheets are pure white.

Select a Washing Cycle

Since technology is so advanced, some modern washing machines have incredible features. It may be a bit challenging to know the correct settings for washing your dirty sheets.

While some contemporary washing machines have settings specified for washing bed sheets, others don't. Thus, people with washers without such specs can use regular wash cycles and color settings.

Logically, mildly and very soiled dirty sheets require different wash cycles. However, washing your sheets regularly under the strongest cycle may cause them to deteriorate faster, but if the sheets are mildly soiled, use the warm water setting. Use the hot water setting for dirty sheets that are highly soiled.

Avoid using high heat settings regularly if you want your sheets to last longer since this causes the sheets to wear out faster. However, you can use a hot temperature setting if you recently used cold to eliminate allergens or any potential bacterial or fungal contamination on the sheets.

Supplementing Wash

Natural washing supplements can eliminate smells and stubborn stains and help brighten your sheets. After the wash, add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help remove detergent traces on the sheets. Additionally, you can use 2 ounces of lemon juice in the wash cycle to assist in brightening up the sheets. Advisably substitute your whitening or bleaching agent for lemon juice to increase your sheets' lifespan.

Tips for Cleaning Brand New Sheets

Note that new sheets may not feel as soft as you expect due to the chemicals added during the manufacturing process. The detergent you use on a new sheet may lock in the chemicals reducing the harsh feel.

Fortunately, you can counter this problem by washing your new sheets with white vinegar and baking soda. Wash the sheets with a cup of baking soda, then add about 8 ounces of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Once that is done, feel free to wash them with regular detergent.

Drying the Sheets

Drying your sheets without forming wrinkles may seem challenging, but it's relatively easy. The agitation the sheets undergo in the wash cycle may cause them to bunch up and twist. 

Taking the sheets in the dryer in such a condition can cause them to ball up and even form deep creases and wrinkles. And getting such a sheet back to its original form may be tricky. 

So, don't overload your dryer to ensure you'll be sleeping on cleaner, dryer sheets without wrinkles. Overstuffing the machine can cause the sheets to dry unevenly. Just fill the dryer ½ to ¾ way to leave more space for the sheets to move around. 

As you dry the sheets in the machine, ensure the temperature is at a medium or low heat setting. Also, remember to fluff them out before placing them in the dryer. This is probably the best way of shielding your sheets from wrinkling or balling up.

For those without a dryer, simply fluff the sheets out, then stretch them along the corners. Hang them on the clothing line, then clip them at the center and on each end and leave them to dry up. It's best to hang the sheets in a breezy and sunny location. Only fold them up when they completely dry up to prevent molding.

Pre-Soaking Sheets

Soaking any type of item means leaving it in soapy water for sometime to get rid of any stubborn stains. Soaking is highly recommended mostly when washing your stained bed sheets. 

If you wash sheets on a weekly basis and rarely stain them, feel free to skip this part. But if you wash them fortnightly and have kids, meals and pets in bed, then soak them first before washing.

To soak your sheets, add some water in a basin or tub, pour in some detergent (preferably powder) and some color-safe bleach. Feel free to add antiseptics in the soak to help disinfect your sheets as well. After which, soak your sheets for about an hour or so. Don't soak in hot water and don't soak colored sheets together with white ones. After pre-soaking, most tough stains will be gone and you can put the sheets in the machine and wash.

Bonus tip: after rinsing your sheets, take them through some water with fabric softener to keep your sheets smelling fresh and strengthen the fabrics.

Consequences of not Washing Your Sheets Regularly

What's the worst that can happen when you stay for weeks without washing your bed sheets? One thing is that your bed may start to stink. The combination of sweat and oils isn't a favorable odor. The breathability of your sheets will also get affected and every time you lie down you'll feel suffocated and stuffy in your sheets. Bed bugs will also visit your bed and your sheets will wear at a fast rate. Here are other consequences to expect.

Dust Mites Invasion

As you sleep at night, you shed skin as you sweat, adding to the gunk build-up on your sheets. The presence of all this dirt, dead skin cells, hair, and others attracts dust mites. After feeding on the dead skin cells, they poop droppings that are invisible to the naked eye and highly allergenic. Aside from causing allergies, these droppings can also cause eczema flare-ups and asthma. In addition to that, you'll also be risking the condition of your mattress and your pillows as well as other beddings.

Unfortunately, dust mites reproduce quite fast and can be hard to get rid off after they invade. Therefore, clean your sheets regularly to prevent attracting them in the first place.

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Bodily Fluids Build-Up In the Sheets

At night especially when you sleep naked, your sweat and other bodily fluids come into direct contact with the sheets and other bedding. The average amount of bodily fluids your body excretes adds to about half a liter every night. These fluids include drool, sweat, period leakage, and blood from nose bleeds, open wounds and mosquito bites. When these gross fluids soak up in your sheets, it initiates breeding for many germs and micro bacteria that cause severe illnesses and infections.

Getting Skin Diseases

The skin is a very sensitive organ that doesn't respond well to dirt. Your skin pores can take in most things that it comes in contact with. For example, dirt on your sheets will be soaked into your skin, clogging your pores which in turn can cause itching, acne breakouts, blemishes and rashes. 

Taking a shower won't be effective if you wear dirty clothing or sleep on dirty surfaces. If your sheets have accumulated dirt, pests, oils and sweat among other body fluids, these things can give your skin a bad odor, cause hyperpigmentation and to some extent, encourage skin sagging. Once your skin is affected, it becomes a hard task to reverse the damage.

Sleeping Disorders and Insomnia

Your dirty sheets may be the reason you are not getting a good night's sleep. Note that consistent sleep interruptions can cause sleep disorders and insomnia. A dirty sleeping environment can also cause respiratory problems among others that can keep you sneezing all night or struggling to breathe.

General uneasiness, bed bugs, and other factors can significantly affect your body's sleep cycle. Irregular sleep patterns have been linked to stress and can cause long-term sleep problems—which may negatively impact the state of your body and mind. That’s why it’s essential to wash your sheets regularly.

Final Thoughts

To keep your sheets clean, aside from washing them regularly, avoid eating in bed which can even attract cockroaches to your bed. All these insects are unsanitary and can make you ill if you're constantly in contact with them. On the day of washing your sheets, before placing clean ones on your bed, let your beddings aerate for a few hours. Remember that keeping your bed clean is a package deal with all your beddings, once you maintain one dirty bedding, the rest are contaminated by default.

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