How Often Should You Wash Your Bedding?

We have all the answers for a thoroughly (and correctly) cleaned sleeping situation.

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You spend a third of your life in bed—more if it’s your favorite place for lounging, reading, or watching TV. You put the effort into choosing your favorite sheets, accessorizing with your favorite pillows, and styling so your bedroom looks like a hotel room. But what about cleaning all of the pieces that make your bed special? Well, every component of bedding has different cleaning rules to follow. These tips will help guide you through a thorough cleaning of your beloved bed and make sure you’re not skipping any crucial steps.

Flat and Fitted Sheets

It’s suggested that you should wash your sheets once a week, which means they’re going to experience a lot of wear and tear. To help keep your bedding in its best shape for as long as possible, wash it in warm water rather than hot since hotter temperatures will weaken your fabric. Use small amounts of mild detergent to avoid discoloration or stiff sheets. The same rules apply when you’re drying your sheets: Opt for a low heat to make sure the fibers are kept strong. Make sure your sheets are fully dry before putting on your bed or storing.

Down Comforters

Before starting, make sure the item doesn’t have any holes. If it does, repair those tears with light stitching to make sure you don’t lose any filling during the washing and drying process. A large, front-loading washing machine is your best bet since it allows larger bedding to freely move around. Use the gentle cycle and opt for a mild detergent. It’s best to run the rinse cycle twice while washing down items to ensure that all of the soap has been thoroughly washed out. Dry your down-filled items on the lowest setting, and take them out a few times over the course of drying to make sure no lumps are forming. If it hasn’t dried all the way, let it hang in a sunny area to ensure that it completely dries before putting it back on your bed.

Duvet Covers

If washing your down-filled items seems like too much of a pain for you, use a duvet cover. This cover protects your comforter from allergens, oils, and any other accidental spills. Often times people think it’s fine to wash these only occasionally, but that’s not the case. If you use a top sheet, you can get away with washing your duvet cover once a month. If you don’t use a top sheet, this duvet cover should be included in your weekly washing.

Mattress Pads

Mattress pads and covers come in a variety of different forms, but the general rule of thumb is to make sure you’re washing these several times a year. Cotton and vinyl-backed items should generally be washed with warm or cold water and dried on a low temperature or air dried. If you have an egg crate, make sure you vacuum all dust and dirt off of it prior to washing on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. If machine wash isn’t recommended, you can spot clean when needed. Lay it on a flat surface to make sure all areas dry completely to avoid mold and odors. Always be sure to follow the washing instructions on your specific topper.

Memory Foam Pieces

Foam can easily be ruined in washing machines and dryers, so it’s best to spot clean these items. Start by vacuuming both sides of your memory foam to ensure that there is no dust or dirt. If there are stains, make yourself a combination of equal parts water, lemon juice and distilled white vinegar. Allow the solution to sit for about 15 minutes before blotting with clean water and then a dry towel. If the whole memory foam pad needs a cleaning, you can spray the solution all over and allow to sit for 30 minutes. After, rinse the whole pad and squeeze (don’t wring) excess water. After this, you’ll need to lay the pad out for a couple of days to make sure it dries completely.


Cleaning your pillows is easy and only requires the normal steps of washing and drying. Make sure you check for specific instructions on yours, but down and fiber pillows can generally go right in the washing machine. Use warm water and a gentle cycle, preferable in a front-loading machine. Add an extra rinse cycle to make sure these pillows are free of suds, and then toss them in the dryer on a low heat setting. Add dryer balls to help avoid clumping, or stay nearby to give them a fluff or two by hand during the process.

Dainty Details

When dealing with embroidery, lace, fringe, or crocheted items, your best bet is to take the additional time to wash these delicate bedding items by hand. Soak these pieces in water for 10 minutes to get rid of any grime. Then, transfer these items to warm water with a small amount of mild detergent. Swish them around, and let them sit for a few additional minutes. Rinse your items, and lay them on clean towels to help absorb the water and let them air dry.

Delicate Quilts

There is a lot of back and forth when it comes to the best method for cleaning delicate quilts, but we always like to err on the side of caution. Hand washing your quilt is going to take some time, but in the end you won’t be disappointed in how it comes out. The first step is checking for colorfastness. You definitely don’t want a certain color spreading. Take a piece of white cloth and wet it with cold water and rub it over each color present in the quilt. If you see any of the colors transfer over, avoid washing your quilt because these colors will run. If the colors are fine, go ahead and fill your sink or tub with cold water, and use very mild liquid detergent. Let your quilt sit for about 10 minutes; then rinse it, and let it sit in cold water sans detergent until it is thoroughly rinsed off. Let excess water drain, and then cover your quilt on both sides with towels to absorb water and then lay flat to air dry.

Your Mattress

We don’t even want to start thinking about all the things that are known to accumulate on mattresses over time, and that’s why it’s so important to clean it. Start by stripping your bed down and getting right to your mattress for a deep vacuuming. If there are any stains on your mattress, your best bet is to spot clean with either a store bought enzyme cleaner or a homemade solution. After you’re done spot cleaning, sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface and let it sit to help absorb any liquid and make it smell refreshed. After it sits for a while, go ahead and vacuum it up. Air your mattress out as often as you can to keep it fresh!

Silk Accents

Silk pillowcases look fantastic and are supposed to do wonders for your skin and hair, but what about cleaning them? After investing the money into these bedding accessories, you definitely want to preserve them for as long as possible. Unlike silk clothing, these pillowcases are generally made with a more durable form of silk that can handle a machine washing. Be sure not to mix these with rougher fabrics, and even take the next step by making sure they’re inside out and placed inside a cotton pillowcase during the wash cycle. Use cold water and a gentle cycle along with detergent that is specifically approved for washing silk. Skip the dryer, and air dry these delicates to make sure they stay perfect. As always, make sure you check specific instructions and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Originally published March 2017. Updated March 2018.

Read More About Home Organization and Cleaning: 

The Ultimate Home Cleaning Cheat Sheet
32 Easy Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

How to Organize Every Room in Your House

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