bed with striped duvet cover and pillowcase
Photography by Alpha Smoot

Allow us to pose a housekeeping question that others may be too embarrassed to admit they don’t know the answer to: How often should you wash your sheets? Our bed linens clearly alert us (and our senses) to when they’re in need of a cleaning—hello, far-from-crisp fabric and unpleasant odors—but to get precise on the whens and whys of sheet laundering, we tapped Brooklinen’s director of design and product development and in-house expert, Katie Elks, and sleep science coach and Sleep Foundation managing editor Logan Foley. Read on for their advice.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets, Really?

According to Foley, it’s best to toss your linens and pillowcases in the wash weekly, along with any bedding accessories, like shams, that your body comes into direct contact with. This is even more crucial if you spend a lot of time in bed or sleep nude. Sweaty sleepers might even want to increase the frequency. Same with if you share space with a cat or dog, to avoid pet dander pileup. Don’t wait any longer than two weeks, says Elks. Concerned about the fabric wearing thin from routine washings? Alternate between sets to extend their longevity. (Following the product’s care and wash instructions doesn’t hurt either.) 

How to Wash Your Sheets

For 100 percent cotton fabrics like percale and sateen, machine-wash with cool or cold water and a mild detergent and a nonchlorine bleach to treat yellowing and stains as needed, then tumble dry on a low temperature, Elks suggests. If you sleep on a linen or cashmere set, follow the same instructions minus the bleach. Psst: Elks likes Brooklinen’s 270-thread-count Classic Percale and 480-thread-count Luxe Sateen options (they get softer after every wash).


advertisement

What Happens If You Skip a Laundry Day?

Your nose won’t appreciate you snuggling beneath grubby linens—and neither will your pores. “Oil and sweat from your face and body can build up and cause breakouts and even make allergies worse,” says Foley. And then there’s the matter of bedbugs potentially hitching a ride on your bags or clothing and eventually making their way into your bed. Dust mites, which can also settle into your mattress and bedding, are known to trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. A good wash gets rid of these creepy crawlers along with dust, pollen, and dirt that can build up over time. An added bonus: Laundering prevents these things from breaking down and damaging the fabric’s fibers.

Okay, How Often Should You Wash Your Duvet?

Duvets and blankets generally don’t come into direct contact with your skin as often as fitted or top sheets, so feel free to be a bit more lax with your washing schedule; every two to three months for duvets and biweekly for duvet covers should be sufficient, according to Foley. 

For comforters, Elks prefers professional cleaning (domestic washers typically don’t have the capacity to effectively and safely handle the job). However, chemicals used in commercial treatments remove the natural oils in down comforters, which break down the down clusters faster and cause the material to deteriorate. When possible, Elks suggests spot cleaning stains with a gentle detergent, occasionally hanging the bedding outside on a dry day to shake it free of dust, and using a no-heat or air-fluff dryer setting to remove particles. 

Does Showering Before Bed Help Keep Sheets Clean?

“You can shower before bed so you’re not bringing extra dirt into your sheets,” says Foley, “but the reality is that no matter what you do, your covers will need to be washed.” Your skin will thank you later.


advertisement