We polled readers with the simple question, “How often should you wash your sheets?” and then let real experts weigh in with the REAL answers.
A few weeks ago we conducted an anonymous poll of our readers to gather intel on the frequency of laundering their bed linens. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect in terms of responses, but over 591 respondents told us something really surprising. Before we get to the results, you should know that of the 591 respondents, 89% were females, and almost all of those women said they were between the ages of 25 and 40, earning at least $60,000 annually, and reported having above average education levels. Simply put, the women who responded are civilized creatures with access to the internet and all the shopping glory a soul could ever ask for.
So here’s where we sat back with our mouths agape. When we asked “How often should you wash your sheets?” we found out the average person washes their bed linens twice a month. If you’re thinking that sounds awkwardly low in terms of frequency, you’re right, and that means the average woman’s linens are crawling with microbes.
“Your sheets are a hot bed (pun intended) for microbes; just think about this — humans produce 26 gallons of sweat a year in bed,” explains Anthony J Troiano Jr, Ph.D., a clinical microbiologist and scientific consultant. “This moisture is an ideal place for fungi, bacteria, animal dander, pollen, and soil. On top of this there are excrements from the body including sweat, sputum, vaginal, and anal excretions, urine, and skin cells.”
Gasp. Shock. Horror. Vomit (but not on the sheets).
“A shower before bed and putting on fresh pajamas at night is a good way to limit the accumulation of microbes and dust in the sheets. Microbes love hot, moist environments, so think twice before lotioning in bed or wearing your birthday suit as our bodies are reservoirs inside and out (our skin) for oils and bacteria.”
So, sure, we know sleeping naked and wearing dirty pajamas could lead to a disgusting microbial parade and a host of bed allergens — but that doesn’t answer how often you should wash your sheets, does it? Should we all be dousing our linens in bleach after each sleep? Hardly, but frequency is important.
“Every one to two weeks is ideal,” according to Troiano, and other experts tend to agree that even two weeks seems to be pushing it.
“I suggest changing your bedsheets once a week,” says Sicily Bennett, an organizational expert. “Do it more often when you are sick, didn’t get a chance to shower before bed, or tend to sleep naked. Otherwise, for the most part, once a week is good.”
Both experts agree that getting into the habit of weekly sheet laundering is probably the best idea to keep the flow of clean sheets and minimal microbial growth going. Honestly, isn’t the idea of a face full of nighttime fungus enough to get you to strip your linens?
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