How often should you change your bedsheets?

Ever wondered how often should you change your bedsheets? This is the advice you need for a clean, fresh sleep space

White sheets on bed and book and cup and saucer
(Image credit: The Good Sheet)

Asking how often should you change your bedsheets to ensure they’re hygienic and a pleasure to climb between every night? 

Around one-third of our entire lifetimes are estimated to be spent in bed, which makes frequent washing a necessity for an always-fresh bed. But you might be wondering just how often this should be for good hygiene.

Great laundry room ideas will make laundering easy, and this is the answer to how often bedsheets should be going into the washing machine.

How often should you change your bedsheets?

Washing bed sheets is a straightforward task, but that doesn’t mean it’s one that’s undertaken frequently as part of cleaning a bedroom. The average number of days Americans go before changing their sheets is around 24 – in other words, a little less often that once every three weeks, according to a survey by Mattress Advisor (opens in new tab)

As for UK sheet changing habits? ‘A recent YouGov study (opens in new tab) revealed that over a fifth of Brits wash their bedding every three weeks or longer,’ says Danielle Mason, head of product development at The Fine Bedding Company (opens in new tab). ‘However, I would recommend washing your bedsheets once a fortnight to keep them fresh and clean.’

‘You may wish to wash them more frequently in the summer months when you are more likely to perspire, or if you have dust mite allergies,’ she says. ‘However, washing less frequently (and on a lower temperature) is better for the environment and better for your bank account!’

These are the details you need to answer the question how often should you change bedsheets along with essential cleaning tips?

Why bedsheets need regular washing

The reason washing bedsheets – as well as washing pillows – is important is because we lose fluid overnight, through sweating and respiration. We also shed dead skin cells. Add to that any spills and stains on the sheets, and good hygiene demands that sheets are washed often.

Change bedsheets at least once every two weeks

For many people, washing bedsheets at least once every two weeks is a good rule to abide by. 

Washing them at the right temperature will cleanse them of bacteria, sweat, and the skin cells that accumulate as we sleep between them. 

After drying them, fold fitted sheets as well as flat sheets neatly and store them in a well ventilated closet until putting them on the bed again.

Change bedsheets more often to avoid allergy symptoms

For household members who have asthma and allergies, it’s worth stepping up the frequency of changing bedsheets. 

Dust mites, which feed off the dead skin cells we shed, thrive in bedding and mattresses. They are too small to be seen by the naked eye but their feces and their decaying bodies can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and a cough. A dust mite allergy can be an asthma trigger, too, causing breathing difficulties, and chest tightness and pain. ‘Dust mites may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma,’ says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (opens in new tab) (AAFA). 

To prevent allergic reactions, bedsheets should be changed weekly and washed hot. ‘You have to wash them in water that’s at least 130ºF or more to kill dust mites,’ advises the AAFA. Use the 60ºC cycle in the UK.

Reasons to change sheets weekly or more often

As well as to help you or another family member avoid suffering asthma and allergy symptoms, there are other reasons to change bedsheets weekly or with even greater frequency.

For example, if someone in the household experiences night sweats, weekly changing is good practice. 

Let your animal companions sleep on the bed? Upping the frequency with which the sheets are changed to every three to four days is a good idea, according to the Sleep Foundation (opens in new tab).

And if someone in your home is sick and it’s contagious, change the sheets and use the hottest washing temperature possible, and dry sheets completely. Wash your hands after handling the linens, too.

What happens if you don’t change your bedsheets?

If you don’t change your bedsheets, you can be exposed to bacteria, dust mite waste products, fungi, pollen, and animal dander. Dead skin cells, sweat and other bodily secretions, makeup and more, can also be found there, making the bed very far from fresh and pristine.

The results of not changing bedsheets can be allergic symptoms, and poorer sleep quality, and the sheets can become malodorous and stained so you’ll need to buy new ones more often.

Be aware that for good bedroom hygiene you also need to be savvy about how often you should change your mattress as it, too, can accumulate allergens.

How often do normal people change the sheets?

How often people change the sheets is subject to a wide variation. Responses varied from more than once a week to periods of every four weeks and less frequently in a recent YouGov survey, although around one-third of people fell into the once a week category, and a similar number into the every two week category.

Attitudes differ between the sexes. ‘Men have lower standards of cleanliness, as their definition of unhygienic bedsheets is, on average, those not washed after four weeks, while women say three weeks,’ say the pollsters.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.