How often do you wash sheets? Researchers recommend surprising method

Deepak Gupta January 14, 2022
Updated 2022/01/14 at 4:28 PM

The winter is currently showing its mild side. So it can get a little warmer under the covers again at night. The result: We sweat more and we excrete excessive moisture on sheets, pillows and the like. But not only in the heat, uncomfortably many and disgusting things accumulate in your sleep. It is not without reason that medical professionals have a rather unusual answer to the question how often we should wash bed linen.

How often do you really wash the bedding? That’s what science says

The German Textile Cleaning Association recommends cleaning duvets thoroughly wet, depending on the possibility, preferably once or twice a year. With sheets and covers it looks a lot different, of course. But here, too, the recommendations differ.

A kind of golden rule is to change the fabrics every two weeks. But if science has its way, that’s not enough. Doctors advise to wash the bed linen once a week.

The dermatologist and germ expert Dr. Annie Gonzalez, for example, thinks it makes perfect sense to put sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases in the washing machine every seven days in order to remove all of the dirt they contain. Dr. Philip Tierno, a microbiologist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, goes a step further and makes this routine dependent on the presence of a mattress cover.

If there is no additional barrier between the sheet and the mattress, he believes that the weekly routine is essential. In such cases, the mattress collects more liquids, fats and flakes due to the unhindered seepage. A cover, however, prevents this and only allows the bed linen to be cleaned every two weeks.

Disgusting & unhealthy: all of this is left behind in your bed linen

It quickly becomes clear that you should clean covers, sheets and the like on a regular basis when you look at what has accumulated in your sleeping area over time.

Within a year people lose around 180 liters of liquid that is deposited in the bed and thus also on the bed linen. Join in Fats and flakes of skin, of which in turn Mites can provide excellent nutrition. They not only live in your bedchamber, but also leave their own filth behind. Up to 10,000 of the arachnids can frolic in a contaminated bed.

Fungi and bacteria thrive in comforters and pillows

In addition to dust mites, other parasites can also be found in your bed. So moisture and warmth create a perfect climate for Bacteria and fungi.

According to a study, researchers at the University Hospital of South Manchester found that feather pillows and synthetic pillows in particular ensure rapid spread. After 1.5 years, an average of four and after 20 years around 17 types of fungus lived in bed linen.

How often do you wash sheets? These people should do it more often

This is particularly dangerous for the health of small children, sick and elderly people, as the German Textile Cleaning Association explains. A house dust allergy can result, which manifests itself as sneezing and a rash. But also people with weakened immune systems and people with respiratory diseases such as asthma can experience health problems after long-term contact.

Regular cleaning is also recommended for other special groups of people because they leave behind more residue than others. This includes people:

  • having skin problems like rash or acne
  • having excessive salivation while sleeping
  • take the animals to bed with you
  • who don’t shower before sleep
  • who sleep naked
  • who eat in bed
  • who sweat profusely
  • who have asthma or allergies

Warning: 3 things can go wrong when washing bed linen

Aside from cleaning your bedding more often, there are general things to look out for. For example, on the following mistakes that you might make.

  1. Wash bedclothes too hot: It is a fallacy that you have to wash bedclothes at at least 60 degrees to kill all germs. Modern washing machines can do this at lower temperatures.
  2. The wrong detergent: Not every bed linen needs the same detergent. For white textiles, for example, a heavy-duty detergent is recommended to avoid a gray haze. Colorful or patterned fabrics, on the other hand, would fade, which is why a colored detergent is the better choice.
  3. Do not use fabric softener: For the absorbency of your bed linen in particular, it is important not to use fabric softener. This actually sticks together sensitive fibers, but it is also not recommended for cotton.

How to wash bed linen properly – instructions

Before starting the actual washing process, you can first prepare your textiles a little in advance. This ensures good, but gentle results.

For example, manufacturers recommend turning bed linen inside out when washing. The inside then looks outwards. You should also close the zips on the covers. In addition, it is important to wash bed linen and sheets only with similar colors.

All these precautions should prevent damage to the fabric or abrasion of the printed motif, while at the same time preserving the luminosity of the colors.

To then thoroughly clean your bed linen, temperatures of up to 60 degrees are sufficient. These are particularly recommended for allergy sufferers, because they kill dust mites in the best possible way. However, this takes more than 30 minutes at 60 degrees.

Optimal temperatures depending on the degree of soiling

  • Wash bed linen at 30 degrees: Not recommended for hygienic reasons. Bacteria and germs can then even multiply. If the bed linen is made of microfiber or is printed, however, 30 degrees are often necessary to avoid loss of color.
  • Wash bed linen at 40 degrees: If the soiling is rather light to normal, 40 degrees is optimal and sufficient.
  • Wash bed linen at 60 degrees: To really give germs and bacteria no chance, 60 degrees are good. When you buy it, you should make sure that these temperatures do not cause damage.
  • Wash bed linen at 90 degrees: If the textiles are not dyed or made of linen, they can easily be cleaned at 90 degrees. This is not necessary, however, because 60 degrees are advised to be sufficient for hygienic cleanliness.

The different textiles also have different care requirements. For example, there are the following basic rules for washing routines that apply to cotton and co.

Temperatures and detergents depending on the type of textile

  • cotton: 60 degrees Celsius and color detergent; white cotton bed linen can also be washed at 95 degrees Celsius
  • Microfiber: 60 degrees Celsius and special detergent for microfiber or mild detergents
  • linen: 40 degrees Celsius with mild detergent; in the gentle program or with a low number of revolutions
  • satin: 40 degrees Celsius with mild or heavy duty detergent
  • silk: maximum 30 degrees Celsius with mild detergent or silk detergent

tip: Before starting the wash, however, always pay attention to the care instructions for sheets and co. For sterile washing, you can also add the appropriate disinfectant detergent.

Wash bed linen often, but in an environmentally friendly way

If you want to wash bed linen in a particularly environmentally friendly way, spin at 1400 revolutions. But there is still a lot more you can do to save energy, for example with frequent cleaning.

  • Avoid the prewash. This is only necessary if the duvet cover, sheet and co. Really show stubborn stains.
  • Do not wash the bedding until there is enough laundry to fill the drum.
  • Let the bedding air dry rather than the dryer. This consumes additional and also a lot of electricity.

Wash pillows and duvet (instructions)

Of course, those who wash their bedclothes often shouldn’t neglect the bedding themselves. Putting dirty blankets and pillows in freshly cleaned covers doesn’t help you in the end either.

In general, it is therefore best to wash pillows and duvets on a regular basis once or twice a year, according to experts. First, make sure that both are allowed in the washing machine according to the label. If this is the case, it can be problematic with very large duvets because they may not fit into the drum. From a width of 1.55 meters, for example, things can get critical.

Alternatively, you can put oversized duvets in the chemical cleaning give, one Laundromat (the drums usually hold more volume there) or the own bathtub use for it.

tip: Down comforters should not be excessively squashed and should therefore always be sent to the dry cleaner. Bedding made from silk or animal hair, on the other hand, has a self-cleaning effect due to its natural fibers and requires less maintenance. If the outer shell is dirty, we recommend cleaning it.

Tips for healthy sleep

Regardless of how often you start washing your bedding, there are a few other factors that are important for a healthy sleep. 6 tips for better sleep will help you to improve your routine. In individual cases, this also includes the best sleeping position to combat breathing disorders.

Sources: Textilreinigungs-Verband eV, Stern, The Healthy, ResearchGate / University Hospital of South Manchester

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