While most of us know about the importance of washing our sheets and pillows regularly, many of us don’t know exactly what builds up when we don’t wash or replace our bedding enough. Spoiler: It’s gross. Each night, your body sheds around 15 million skin cells, which attract dust mites, and one study found that typical pillow houses as many as 16 different species of fungus.
Karin Sun, the founder of luxury bedding brand Crane & Canopy, recommends washing sheets and pillowcases once a week to get rid of debris and dust, including the top sheet, but the benefits of fresh bedding go beyond cleanliness. We spend one-third of our lives in bed, so proper cleaning of sheets is a pillar of bedding care. Here, Sun explains the six reasons why you should wash your sheets every week.
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You’d be surprised how much bacteria and dead skin cells can build up on your sheets from sweating, especially in warmer climates. Many people prefer to shower in the morning to help jump-start their morning, which leaves them going to bed with dirt accumulated throughout the day. An unhygienic bedroom environment can weaken your immunity and make you more susceptible to sickness or infection.
Dust mites and even mold can grow in your bedding from things like sweating or salivating in your sleep, eating snacks in bed, or sleeping with damp hair. Dust mites feed off of dead skin cells, which can build up on your sheets if you don’t wash them regularly. These mites can heighten symptoms for people with common allergies or for those who are simply more sensitive, resulting in asthma attacks or other symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and skin rashes. In these scenarios, it’s important to wash your bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) to fully kill dust mites.
You’re not the only one resting on your sheets. Dead skin cells, debris, and oil do, too, and this is what bacteria thrive off. Sleeping on dirty pillows can lead to breakouts, and folliculitis, as well as worsen eczema due to dryness of skin and overactive colonies of bacteria. At the very least, wash or swap out your pillowcases every few days if you have sensitive skin or are prone to breakouts. Still not convinced? Well, one study found that your pillowcase has more bacteria than your toilet seat.
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According to a recent NSF survey, more than 75 percent of people sleep better with fresh sheets, so regular washing and changing of bedding is necessary. If you’ve had trouble sleeping or falling asleep, take some time to notice and think about if your bedding is as clean, crisp, and comfortable as it should be or if a quick wash might help you sleep better.
Peace of Mind
Cleaning your sheets on a weekly basis and making your bed daily helps get you in the rhythm of adopting healthy habits and increases your productivity. As Charles Duhiggm, author of The Power of Habit, explains, “Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” Taking care of household chores and creating a clean home environment creates a Domino Effect and triggers you to build other healthy habits into your day.
Your bed is likely the focal point of your bedroom, so investing in luxury bedding and maintaining its cleanliness can greatly affect the room’s look and tone. Even in an otherwise tidy room, an unclean and messy bed creates a sense of disorder and chaos that can affect other aspects of your life. A well-made bed, on the other hand, creates the foundation for a sleek, aesthetically pleasing space. Plus, when you have company over, a neat bed will prevent any embarrassment.
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A Final Word of Note
If you’re one of the 40 percent of Americans who don’t use a top sheet to help stay cool, sleeping without one is not unsafe for your health as long as you still keep your bedding clean and comfortable. If you don’t use a top sheet, make sure to also wash your comforter or duvet cover weekly. These days, brands are accommodating this preference by offering sheet sets without the top sheet to ensure you’ll get the best night’s sleep possible and wake up clean and refreshed.