Spring may be considered one of the best times of year to clean and start fresh, but with quarantine we no longer need to wait for changing seasons to get things started. Everyone is doubling up on chores these days, and the area getting the most love is the bedroom—a space that, for most of us, has become a personal sanctuary of sorts. Earlier this year, a survey from Homes.com that polled 1,000 Americans to see how the pandemic has affected their living spaces revealed that 38 percent of people have sanitized all their bedding. 

Considering 28 percent of respondents also suggested that they’ve been sleeping much more since social distancing guidelines went into place, it only makes sense that they’d want to give their bedding a deep cleaning. But what does it actually mean to keep bacteria at bay?

For starters, don’t shove everything into one load, as tempting as that may be. Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, cofounders of the Laundress, even suggest not mixing in everyday things like towels and clothes. Putting fewer sheets into the washer allows the fabric to circulate. To help keep your bedding in its best shape, wash your top and fitted sheet once a week in warm water rather than hot, given the temperatures can weaken the fabric, and use small amounts of mild detergent to avoid discoloration.

When cleaning down items, run a cold rinse cycle twice to ensure all the soap has gone through the fabric thoroughly. “You can wash mostly all comforters and duvet covers at home—even if they’re considered dry-clean only,” says Boyd. Things like fiber pillows can go right in the washer with warm water on a gentle cycle (front-loading machines are preferable) and tossed in the dryer on a low setting. If your breakfast in bed went awry, presoak heavy stains with an oxygenated-bleach stain solution before tossing it in. Doing everything separately takes more time, but the payoff is worth it: It turns out that there’s a direct correlation between washing your sheets and better z’s, so drop the duster and unmake the bed.

This story was originally published in May 2020. It has since been updated.