The age old question we probably all ask ourselves and never really want to find out the answer, is how often should you change your sheets? It’s definitely not everyone’s favourite chore, but it is important and essential to remember to clean your sheets as it prevents germs and dust mites from harbouring, and leaving a petri dish of germs and bacteria is even less appealing.
What’s Under The Covers?
Dust mites can multiply quickly in unwashed bedding. This is because these microscopic creatures feed on dead skin, which builds up in your sheets every night, a scary thought! Your mattress could have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million of these creatures. The Sleep Council estimates that as much as a tenth of the weight of a pillow that has never been washed is made up of human skin scales, mould, dust mites (including dead dust mites) and their droppings! Even though they don’t bite, they are considered an allergen, and their presence can cause symptoms like hay fever, eczema, asthma, coughing, and more.
Daily, we shed around 500 million cells, along with perspiration, pollen, pet dander, fungi and mould — which are all snuggling in bed with us every night. Your sheets in turn, also accumulate oil, sweat, dirt and make up. Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City states that“not washing your sheets regularly puts all of this in close contact with your skin for several hours at a time while you sleep. This can lead to a variety of problems ranging from skin irritation to acne to possibly even infections in a worst-case scenario.”
Fear not! We are here to help you keep the germs and dust mites at bay from your bed, with these tips on what to do and what not to do.
What to do
- Wash your sheets and blankets at least every week or fortnight.
- If you have the following conditions, you should consider laundering your sheets at least once a week:
- You have dust or pollen allergies
- You or your partner sweat a lot
- You or your partner has a contagious illness
- A pet sleeps in bed with you
- Wash your bedding at 60°C or above — dust mite droppings will be washed away if you launder bedding at a lower temperature, however the mites themselves will survive, which won’t help in the long-run. Before you wash your sheets, check the label for any precautions and follow the instructions. You can also hang your sheets out in the sun to dry. Sunlight is a natural antimicrobial agent, and it also kills mites.
- You can iron your bedsheets if you have time. The heat will help sanitise them without overly prolonging their exposure to heat.
- For all the mummies out there, wash stuffed toys at least once a month at 60°C or above.
What not to do
- Don’t make your bed as soon as you get up in the morning. While we sleep, we sweat, and if you make your bed straight away, this can trap moisture and warmth inside your bed, a perfect environment for dust mites.
- Don’t forget to wash your doona! Doonas and pillows should be washed at least twice a year.
Washing linens is a big task, however we wash our clothes after wearing them, so washing bedsheets should be added to the list.