Sheets to the wind

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5 sheets to the wind is usually an expression used when someone is very drunk.  This is what I should have been when I read an article about how often you should wash your sheets.

Changing your bed linen weekly is something I assumed happened in every home, apparently not!

Photo by Nicole Honeywill / Sincerely Media on Unsplash
How often do you change your sheets?
How often do you change your sheets

The recommendation is once every 2 weeks! Weekly if you sweat a lot. In the article, which surveyed American households in 2017, found that 44% of the people surveyed only washed their sheets once a month.


The nurse in me wanted to vomit, the mother in me thought about how much water and detergent we would save.

How often do we wash our sheets?

The good news was that my own little survey in 2 Facebook groups showed that the majority of those who answered the survey, changed and washed their sheets weekly or at minimum every 2 weeks.

Nurse wins. Each day we shed thousands of skin cells; we lose hair and secrete oils into our bedding even after a shower.

This feeds millions of dust mites which are more often than not the cause of allergies and other skin irritations.

Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash
Linen needs to be washed every two weeks

Washing your sheets every two weeks just doesn’t seem all that hygienic to me.

Pillows, duvets and mattresses

Yet while we diligently wash our sheets and pillowcases, how often do we wash our pillows and duvets?

What about the mattress, do you have a mattress protector on all the beds? I know most homes with little children have mattress protectors for those inevitable nappy leaks and night time accidents. Did you get rid of them when night time got dry?

It seems that South Africans are little cleaner than the rest of the world and the bedsheets are washed at least once a week. I don’t know if this is because so many homes have domestic workers or we just happen to be a more hygienic nation.

How often should you wash your sheets and other bedding?

There seems to be no fixed rule, so here is my advice.

Comforters and bedspreads don’t come into direct contact with your skin; they are usually used to cover your bed. You could possibly wash them every 6 months or so. If you have pets that lie on your bed, then I would recommend washing these items every 3-4 months.

Sheets, personally every week for me is as long as you should wait, but the maximum is every two weeks. If you have been sick, then the bedding should be washed as soon as you are well.

The common cold and flu viruses are hardly little critters and are highly contagious, so washing your sheets in very hot water is the only way to prevent the spread of germs.

Pillow and mattress protectors should be washed monthly, if you don’t have protectors then you should wash your pillows at least every 4-6 months, and your mattress, which unless you have a steam cleaner can’t be washed, should be taken out and given an old fashioned airing at least once a year.
Dust mite

Duvets should also be washed every 4-6 months.

5 reasons why you should wash your linen regularly.

  1. Bad skin breakouts- if you are rigorous in your skin routine and yet still have breakouts or you are prone to skin infections, then the bacteria on your dirty pillowcase can be the cause.
  2. Asthma – the skin cells you lose during the night are feeding those dust mites, this can lead to increased asthmatic episodes when you breathe in all those dust mites
  3. Allergies – Dust mites and pet fur are a major cause of allergies, with human shedding enough skin to feed over a million dust mites and adding pets to the mix easily adds to the build-up.
  4. Infection- Viruses and bacteria can live outside the body for a while.  If you have been sick recently, then it is especially important to wash your linen to avoid reinfection.
  5. Eczema- Allergens and irritants found in unwashed sheets can be triggers for dry, itchy skin. If you are using heavy creams and ointments to treat skin disorders, these can transfer to your sheets as they aren’t always fully absorbed by the skin. Once again this can cause a build-up if your sheets aren’t regularly washed.

While washing and folding your bedding weekly may seem like a bit of a chore, there is nothing that beats going to bed at night with clean, crisp sheets.

Here is a link on how to wash pillows and duvets.

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