Ever lay in bed fresh out of a shower, sheet mask on and tea steaming atop the nightstand, only to realize that you haven’t washed your sheets in, uh, a very long time? Yeah, same. Cozy night in vibes, ruined.
I know, I know: Washing your sheets is the least fun thing in the whole entire universe. You’ve got the duvet, fitted sheet, top sheet, and pillowcases—oy. But the longer you put it off the higher chance you have of sleeping in a cesspool of bacteria, according to board-certified dermatologist Lily Talakoub, MD. And you have only yourself to blame. Cute!
Now that you’re sufficiently a) scared, b) grossed out, c) gagging, or d) all of the above, I’m sure you’re wondering what’s the longest amount of time you can go without washing your sheets. Welp, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re allergic to household chores, it’s definitely not as long as you want. Here’s what you need to know.
How often should you wash your sheets?
So, at absolute *minimum*, Dr. Talakoub says you should be washing (or changing out!) your sheets once per week. And when it comes to your pillowcases, you should be trading those guys out daily.
I know that sounds like a lot, but think about all that gunk you’ve accumulated on your body while you were *out* of bed in the big bad world. That nastiness is just going to transfer to your sheets during the many hours you spend *in* bed.
Okay, but what happens if I don’t wash my sheets?
Basically, you’re going to be hanging out in a lot of not-so-nice stuff as you sleep. Humans shed between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells daily, per the American Academy of Dermatology. That’s a lot, friends! And, as mentioned, we (plus our dead skin cells) spend a ton of time in bed!
Maybe you think skin cells don’t sound too bad. Lol, well, where there are skin cells, there are dust mites. Dust mites eat skin cells left by humans (you!), according to the Mayo Clinic, making your place of rest a feeding ground for tiny creepy crawlers. The mites can then cause common allergy symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. (Oh, yeah, they thrive in warm environments like bed.)
Also, if you’re going to sleep with an open wound, Dr. Talakoub cautions that any kind of bacteria from your bedding can enter it, causing bacterial infection, which we obviously don’t want.
Then there’s the product of it all. Lotions, oils, or whatever you put on your face and body before bed build up on your pillowcases and sheets, which can lead to breakouts and skin irritation, explains Dr. Talakoub. Woof. I’m straight-up not having a good time right now. How are you doing?
What if I can’t wash my sheets often?
I get it! There are so many reasons why you might not be able to swap in clean sheets every single week. Still, there are some steps you can take to keep you and your bed squeaky clean and free from actual bugs, per Dr. Talakoub.
- Shower at night to slough off all the dead skin cells, sweat, and general ick of the day.
- Protect your pillowcase by wearing a hair wrap or microfiber towel to bed.
- Cover any open cuts or sores with a Band-Aid.
- Always wear pajamas. Sorry, no sleeping naked on dirty sheets!
- If you have the means, stock up on extra sets of sheets. That way you can just switch out your dirty sheets and procrastinate the laundry room.
Okay, now I’m going to wash my sheets. BRB!
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