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How often should you wash your sheets?

How often should you wash your sheets?
Posted at 12:35 PM, Apr 19, 2024

We Americans aren’t fond of doing laundry. In a 2021 study, when people were asked to name their least favorite chores, doing laundry took the top spot alongside cleaning the bathroom and doing dishes.

On the bright side, laundry experts say you can wear certain clothing items up to 10 times before washing them. But the same isn’t true with your bedsheets. When you consider all the time we spend in bed — breathing, drooling, sweating and shedding skin cells — it makes sense that sheets need to be changed with some frequency.

But how long can you go between washings? Here, two cleaning experts offer their guidance on how often you should wash your bedding.

bedding wash guide diagram

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

The short answer to this question is that you ought to wash your sheets every one to two weeks. But there are many variables that will change the equation.

To begin with, it depends on what you wear to bed.

MORE: How To Perfectly Make Your Bed With Minimal Effort

“If you wear pajamas, you can go 10 days without putting sheets in the washing machine,” says Patric Richardson, the author of “Laundry Love” and the host of “The Laundry Guy” on HGTV. “But if you sleep naked? Truthfully, my rule is twice a week.”

Why so often? He points to the phenomenon that people naturally lose about a pound of water each night through perspiration and respiration. If you sleep naked, your sheets are what’s absorbing it.

And there are other reasons you might want to stick to the more frequent end of the sheet-washing spectrum.

“If you sweat a lot in bed, don’t shower often or have pets, you may want to target once a week,” says cleaning pro Sara San Angelo, aka The Cleaning Lady.

She also recommends tossing pillowcases in the wash at least once a week because they “pick up more oil, sweat and bodily fluids.”

Richardson always adds an oxygen bleach when washing sheets because it breaks down the proteins in sweat and body oil. San Angelo adds baking soda, which whitens and eliminates odors without being harsh on the fabric.

How Often Should You Wash Your Comforter or Duvet?

There are two answers here, depending on how you dress your bed.

“If you use a top sheet, you can wash your comforter once a month,” says San Angelo. “If not, it’s once every two weeks.”


Richardson says you can go a little longer — up to six weeks before washing a comforter — if you have a top sheet.

The advice is a little different if your comforter is covered by a duvet, and you don’t use a top sheet.

“In that case, treat the duvet like a top sheet and wash it with your sheets,” Richardson adds.

If you do use a top sheet, treat the duvet cover like a comforter and wash it every four to six weeks. The comforter insert (inside the duvet) can be washed a few times a year.

How Often Should You Wash Your Bedding, Including Pillows and Mattress Pads?

Richardson acknowledges that many people wash their pillows once a year, but he recommends doing it more frequently.

“I think they feel better when you do it twice a year,” he says.

The mattress and mattress pad should be spot-cleaned immediately if you spill something on them. Otherwise, San Angelo says you can wash the mattress pad every three or four months, and she vacuums the mattress when she does that.

As for a mattress topper, Richardson suggests cleaning it twice a year. Foam toppers can be spot-cleaned only, but lightweight feather, cotton or polyester toppers can go in the washing machine.


Tips to Make Laundering Bed Linens Easier

If you can’t clean your bedding as often as experts suggest, there are a few hacks that you can employ to give yourself some wiggle room.

“If you want to wash your sheets less often, don’t make your bed right away,” Richardson says.

Instead, throw the the top of the comforter back on the bed to reveal the sheets, so your bedding can air out and dry completely.

MORE:14 unexpected things you can throw in the washing machine

“If you go to work, nobody’s going to see your unmade bed,” he says. “When you get home, make the bed so it’s nice to climb into.”

Do your sheets need to be washed, but you can’t do it until the weekend? Richardson suggests adding some vodka to a spray bottle and spritzing the sheets with it. The alcohol is odorless and has antibacterial properties that will freshen your sheets. This will tide you over until you have time for a proper washing.

Tips for Buying Bedding (With Cleaning in Mind)

Washing any fabric as frequently as once a week shortens its lifespan. So durability should be one of the most important factors to consider when buying sheets.

Richardson points out that hotel sheets always have a little polyester in them because that fabric lasts longer. So, if you wash your sheets once a week, you might benefit from buying sheets made from a cotton/polyester blend. And sheets with a higher thread count also tend to hold up better in the wash.


As you make your bed linen purchases, acknowledge your cleaning habits in the decision-making process. Using a top sheet means not having to wash the comforter as often.

It’s also best to have more than one set of sheets on hand. Richardson makes sure he has multiple sets so he can stick one in the hamper while making up the bed with another set. Buy a four-pack of pillowcases, so you can swap them out once a week or more if necessary.

When buying a comforter, consider whether a duvet will make life easier or harder. Some people say that keeping a duvet clean is easier than caring for a bulky comforter. But San Angelo disagrees.

“Duvet covers drive me nuts!” she says. “They are hard to put on and remove, and they tend to get jumbled up all the time. A comforter is much easier.”

She adds that most washers these days are large enough to accommodate a comforter.

Whichever option you choose, make sure it’s machine washable like Boil and Branch’s Signature Hemmed Duvet or this down alternative comforter from Macy’s Home Collection.

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