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The Ultimate Guide to Washing Your Bed Sheets

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Washing Your Bed Sheets

Why It’s Important to Wash Your Sheets Regularly

Washing your bed sheets regularly is important for a few key reasons:

Health and Hygiene

  • Your sheets harbor bacteria, dust mites, and body oils that build up over time. This can lead to breakouts and allergies if you don’t wash them frequently.
  • Washing sheets helps remove these allergens and keeps them from building up. This promotes better hygiene and reduces health risks.
  • Changing sheets weekly can help prevent the spread of illness and infection between people sleeping in the same bed.

Comfort

  • Soiled sheets feel rough and irritating against your skin. Freshening them up keeps your bed feeling soft and comfortable.
  • Your sheets absorb sweat and body oils as you sleep. Washing them helps remove leftover dirt and oils so you don’t feel grimy when going to bed.
  • Clean sheets simply feel refreshing to slip into each night. It’s a nice reset after a long day.

Appearance

  • Dirt, oils, and dead skin cells cause sheets to look dingy over time. Washing restores their bright, clean appearance.
  • Bleach and color-safe detergents can help remove stains and discoloration that occur from regular use.
  • Clean sheets make your whole bedroom look tidy and well-kept. It improves the overall aesthetics.

Longevity

  • Soil wears down fabric fibers faster. Keeping sheets clean preserves them and extends their usable lifespan.
  • Heat can set in stains and odors if sheets aren’t washed promptly. Washing regularly prevents this damage.
  • Bleach and other laundry products break down organic matter that would otherwise cause gradual deterioration.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

Most experts recommend washing your sheets at least once per week. However, certain factors can increase or decrease how frequently you should wash them:

Wash More Frequently If:

  • Someone is ill – weekly washing reduces contagion risk.
  • You sweat heavily at night – 2-3 times per week prevents buildup.
  • You have oily skin or hair – every 3-5 days controls oil and grease.
  • You eat in bed – wash immediately after to remove crumbs and spills.
  • You have pets that sleep in the bed – weekly washing controls dander.

Wash Less Frequently If:

  • Your sheets don’t directly touch your body (i.e. with a mattress cover) – every 2 weeks may suffice.
  • You don’t sweat much and have relatively clean skin and hair – every 10-14 days.
  • Your bedroom is cool and dry – extended time between washes is ok.
  • You make your bed daily and air out the sheets – every 2 weeks is reasonable.

In general, washing every 7-10 days is a good range for most people and situations. But adjust as needed based on your unique circumstances.

What Temperature Should You Wash and Dry Sheets?

Hot water is ideal for washing sheets and killing germs – aim for 130°F if possible. High heat helps:

  • Sanitize sheets by killing bacteria and dust mites
  • Dissolve oils, sweat, and other grime
  • Remove allergens that trigger reactions
  • Shrink fibers for a soft, fluffy feel

If your sheets are sturdy cotton, washing in hot water weekly shouldn’t damage them. For delicate sheets, use warm water and cold cycles occasionally.

Always check the fabric care label for specific temperature instructions.

For drying, low to medium heat is best. High heat can wear out elastic and cause pilling. Tumble dry on low or medium until completely dry. Air drying also works but takes longer.

What Detergent Should You Use?

Look for laundry detergent that is:

  • Fragrance-free – prevents irritation from dyes and perfumes
  • Allergen-reducing – contains enzymes to break down allergens
  • Bleach-free – prevents damage to fabric fibers and dyes

Liquid detergents dissolve better in cool and warm water. Powder detergents work well in hot water.

Use an extra odor-eliminating booster if sheets have a lingering smell.

Color-safe bleach can periodically brighten whites and remove stains without damage.

Vinegar – natural softener and deodorizer to use alongside detergent.

Avoid fabric softener and dryer sheets – they leave residue that reduces absorbency.

How to Wash Your Sheets: Step-By-Step

Follow these steps for fresh, clean sheets:

1. Strip the Bed

  • Pull all bedding off down to the mattress pad.
  • Un-tuck fitted sheets from corners and remove pillowcases.
  • Check for any stains that need pretreatment.

2. Pretreat Stains

  • Dab stains with stain remover or detergent.
  • Let sit 5-10 minutes then rub gently with a soft brush.
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing to limit damage.

3. Load the Washer

  • Put sheets in the drum loose – don’t ball up tightly.
  • Add the recommended amount of detergent for a full load.
  • Add 1/2 cup vinegar or odor eliminator if needed.

4. Wash on Hot

  • Set washer to the hottest temperature listed on the care label.
  • If sheets are bleach-safe, add color-safe bleach now.
  • Use a sanitizing or allergen-reducing cycle if available.

5. Move to Dryer

  • Shake sheets before transferring to remove lint.
  • Dry promptly to avoid mildew from damp sheets sitting.
  • Toss in a dryer ball to fluff and soften.

6. Dry Completely

  • Dry on low or medium heat based on care label.
  • Periodically pause to shake out and redistribute sheets.
  • Repeat short cycles until fully dry.

7. Make the Bed

  • Smooth out sheets and remake the bed promptly after drying.
  • Enjoy freshly laundered sheets!

Best Practices for Sheet Washing

Follow these tips for optimal results when washing your sheets:

  • Wash sheets separately from clothes to avoid lint transfer.
  • Wash pillowcases with your sheets to prevent residue buildup.
  • Avoid using too much detergent which can leave residue.
  • Check that sheets are completely dry before remaking bed.
  • Wash sheets for each bed in the household weekly.
  • Wash mattress and box spring covers monthly.
  • Wash duvet/comforter covers monthly or as needed.
  • Wash sheets before switching to seasonal bedding.

Proper laundry care extends the life of your sheets and keeps them looking and feeling their best. Consistently washing on a weekly basis promotes good sleep hygiene.

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