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How often you should wash your sheets and bed (and the best way to keep it clean)

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Megan Murray
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When was the last time you actually washed your bedsheets? If the answer is weeks (or even months) ago, there’s no judgement but you might want to keep reading for some expert advice…

On average, we spend a whopping 227,760 hours in bed over the course of our lifetimes – that’s the equivalent of 33 years tucked up in our duvets. So, it’s important to make sure the place we’re spending so much of our time is as clean and comfy as possible.

Plus, with more and more of us struggling to get a good night’s sleep, having snooze-inducing washed, fluffy sheets can help us nod off too.

But, actually, how often you should wash your bed sheets is a discussion that can prompt wildly different responses. Should it be once a week, once a fortnight or once a month?!

If you’re confused and want to get your bed looking its best, we’ve spoken to experts about how often you should really be giving your bedding a good ol’ clean. 

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Why do I need to wash my bedding?

Your bedding is a hotbed (sorry) for grime and dirt. We spend hours and hours in our bed every night, which means it collects skin cells, body oils and sweat, all of which contribute to making our sheets dirty. 

As well as residue from our bodies, dust mites also join us in bed and feed on our dead skin cells, so the more regularly you wash your sheets the less chance they have to build up. Plus, if you have pets that sit in your bed, you’re inviting all manner of germs from the outside world into your sleeping spot.

Not only is it a lot nicer to sleep in clean sheets (who doesn’t love the feeling of slinking into fresh bedding?), it’s important your bedding – especially pillows – are clean for the good of your skin, too.

Beauty writer Hanna Ibraheem elaborates: “You may not realise it, but there is a build-up of dirt, bacteria, oils, dead skin cells, sweat, drool and hair products on your pillowcase. When you sleep, you rub your face against your pillowcase, which can lead to acne. So, it’s important to change your pillowcases regularly to make sure they’re as clean as possible.”

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How often should I wash my bedding sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases?

Speaking to stylist.co.uk, Silentnight’s Sally Bonser advises washing bedding once a week at a minimum, and twice a week if you can. That’s right people, if you’re currently in a bi-monthly cycle you need to take it up a notch.

As well as washing them weekly, it’s how you wash them that’s really important. For example, another bed specialist, Dreams, advises people to “wash your bedding at a temperature of at least 60 degrees – any lower and you’ll get rid of dirt, but be giving dust mites a bath instead of getting rid of them.”

Another top tip: if you can dry your bedding outside, do. The UV light in the sunshine helps to kill micro-organisms. 

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It's important to wash your bedding at a temperature of at least 60 degrees.

How often should I wash my pillows?

Here we’re talking about the actual pillow inside the pillowcase, which should be washed at least every four to six months. Bonser says that a third of your pillow weight after this time is purely dead skin, bugs, dust mites and more, so essentially the more often you wash it the better.

“Giving your pillows a quick spin in the tumble dryer between washes will also help keep them clean as the heat kills the bacteria, bugs and mites that can build up,” she explains. “You should tumble dry pillows on a low-heat setting and consider including some rubber dryer balls to keep your pillows fluffed. Not only that, but popping your head on a fresh pillow is a satisfaction like no other.”

How often should I wash my duvet?

Duvets can be washed slightly less often than pillows, but twice a year is best. If your duvet is too big to fit in your washing machine’s drum it may be a job for the dry cleaners, especially because if it isn’t dried properly it might retain a musty smell thanks to lingering dampness. 

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Tips for keeping your bed clean

It’s fairly simple but some of these things have become second nature to many of us. For example, do you often fall asleep with your mascara still on? Well, to keep your bedding in as good a condition as possible make sure you’ve washed your face thoroughly and cleansed it of make-up before going to sleep. 

On a similar note, think about all of the grime you absorb from air pollution throughout your day – it all follows you into bed at night. This means that unless you have a shower before bed, you’re essentially lying in car fumes and city dirt for (hopefully) eight hours. 

As previously mentioned, if you have pets it’s best not to let them on or in your bed. Plus, although we’re suckers for breakfast in bed, you should really keep eating and drinking in bed to a minimum if you want to keep it clean. Crumbs aren’t chic, people.

Bonser also has some good news for those who are a little slow to make their beds in the morning, because this can give your mattress time to breathe. She says: “We’re all guilty of rushing around in the mornings, but when it comes to making your bed there’s a good reason why you should take your time. On average, an adult can lose up to a litre of sweat in one night and all of that has to end up somewhere. To help minimise the amount that can be absorbed by your mattress, ensure that you pull down your duvet and let it air before you move on to making your bed later on in the day.”

She also recommends thinking outside of the box when it comes to keeping your bed clean. For example, bedroom carpets are huge breeding grounds for dust and mites so vacuuming often will help cut down the amount of dust in your bedroom on the whole. Also, if you’re walking around with bare feet, you’ll be bringing all of that debris into your bed with you. As well as keeping on top of carpet cleanliness, Bonser says wearing slippers is a good way of keeping grime out of your bed.

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Images: Getty/Mint Images, Getty/Catherine Falls Commercial

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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