How often do you need to wash your bed sheets?

With most of us spending around 60 hours asleep in bed per week, oil, sweat and dirt can build up quickly, so you should try to wash your bed sheets at least once a week.

Unsure how? Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything you need to know—and much more— right here.

How often should you change your bed sheets?

Washing bed sheets once a week will prevent dirt, dust and sweat from building up. In just a few days, dirt, skin cells, oil and sweat can accumulate on your bed sheets. This dirt can encourage dust mites to inhabit your sheets, which can cause some allergies and rashes. Dust mites live off dead skin cells, so washing your bed sheets often can help. Dirty bed sheets can also contribute to asthma and skin breakouts.

In the summer, warmer nights mean you may sweat more in bed, so washing bed sheets more often in the summer will help keep them fresh. Showering right before bed is a good way to keep your bed sheets cleaner for longer (and some people find it helps them get to sleep more quickly too). Similarly, eating, smoking, or brushing your teeth in bed should be kept to a minimum to help keep your sheets clean.

Wash your bedsheets once a week

How to wash your bed sheets

Washing your bed sheets weekly helps keep them clean, but frequent washing can wear out bedding quickly if you don’t wash them correctly. Following these steps will help keep your bedding in top condition:

  1. Read the label to check for any specific instructions that you should follow.
  2. Wash your bed sheets on the hottest temperature possible (the label should tell you the maximum washing temperature). In general, synthetic materials and wool need to be washed at lower temperatures whereas cotton can be washed hot.
  3. Machine wash using a mild detergent. 
  4. If you have sensitive skin, follow with an additional rinse cycle to make sure all of the detergent has been washed away.
  5. Tumble dry (if appropriate) or hang to air-dry outside or in a well-ventilated area.

How often should you wash your other bedding?

How often to wash bed sheets depends on how much dirt they encounter and how much contact they have with your skin. Other bedding, including pillows, quilts, blankets, and duvets have different levels of contact with dust and dirt compared to your sheets, which means they build up dirt at different rates. Larger bedding items, such as duvets and pillows, can also be tricky to fit in a machine, so how should they be washed?

Bedding typeHow often should I wash it?How should it be washed?
Pillowcase and duvet covers.Once a weekWash along with your other bed sheets at 60°C (for most fabrics).
Pillows Every 4-6 monthsWash at 60°C and either tumble dry or air dry until they are completely dry.
DuvetDepends on what type of filling it has: once or twice per year is recommended.For synthetic, hollowfibre or microfibre-filled duvets: Machine wash on a lower temperature setting (around 30-40°C) and then put it through an extra rinse cycle to remove all the detergent. Tumble dry with caution on a low setting or air-dry outside or in a well-ventilated area.
For wool duvets: Machine wash on a gentle setting (at 30°C or lower), and then follow with a spin cycle to remove all the detergent. Don’t tumble dry. Air-dry in a well-ventilated spot or outside.
For feather, down or silk duvets: Take to a dry cleaners to be laundered – this will help maintain your duvet’s longevity.
For large duvets (above king size) or small washing machines: If your duvet doesn’t fit in your washing machine, take it to a laundrette where they have larger machines available.To keep bedding fluffy, use tumble dryer balls (a tennis ball inside a sock will also give similar results).
Blankets and quiltsOnce a week to once a month for blankets.Once every 2-3 months for quilts, depending on how heavily they are used. If your quilt has a filling, follow the same method as for a duvet with the same filling. Blankets usually can be machine washed, check the label if you are unsure. Wool or knitted blankets shouldn’t be tumble dried and should be washed at a lower temperature.Although a blanket or thinner quilt won’t take as long to dry as a duvet, it is still important to ensure it fully dries to avoid mould and bacteria building up. Dry outside in the sun if possible, or in a tumble dryer or well-ventilated space indoors, such as near an open window.
Mattress protectorEvery 2 monthsMachine wash along with your other bedding at 40-60°C Tumble dry on a low temperature or air-dry outside or in a well-ventilated area until completely dry.
Mattress topperEvery 2 monthsRemove the topper from the bed, and spray stains with a 1:1 water: white vinegar mix. Blot with a towel, sprinkle with baking soda. Leave for at least 8 hours. Vacuum up the baking soda and leave the mattress to dry fully.
MattressEvery 6 monthsLight, frequent cleaning will help keep it fresh, followed by a deep clean once or twice a year. Mattresses that encourage air flow will help to tackle moisture in the mattress and keep it fresh.
Stuffed toysAllergy UK recommends that stuffed toys should be washed as frequently as the bedding, and at least once a month.Wash at 60°C to kill dust mites. If the toy won’t survive this treatment, put in it a bag in the freezer for 12 hours to kill dust mites, and then wash on a lower temperature. 

Remember to check the manufacturer’s instructions: while these guidelines are good general rules of thumb, some items of bedding will need different care. The item’s label will tell you about any special washing requirements. 

Even with regular cleaning, bedding also has a set lifetime, after which you should replace it. A mattress has a lifetime of about 6 to 8 years, after which, dirt will build up and your mattress support will decline. This makes choosing a new mattress tailored to you a good idea for the best night’s sleep. 

Pillows should be replaced after 1 to 2 years, although some fillings can stay comfortable for longer such as down. You’ll be able to tell it is time to look for new pillows if your allergies start to seem worse, you wake up with a sore neck or you find it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position. Stains or yellowing are also a sign that your pillows have seen better days.

Replace pillows after 1 to 2 years.

Washing satin and other speciality sheets

Satin, silk and some other speciality bed sheets and bedding need to be washed differently to keep them in the best condition. If you have silk bed sheets, wash them at no more than 30°C and use a gentle detergent. Silk, wool, feather, and down duvets shouldn’t be tumble dried as this runs the risk of clumping or ruining the filling. Take them to the dry cleaners instead to be professionally laundered. 

Need further information? We’re here to help.

Washing your bed sheets will help to set you up for a good night’s sleep, but if your bedding or mattress is past its best, then cleaning can only go so far. The comfort of your bedding and mattress has a big impact on your health and happiness, so it’s important to choose the best mattress possible. 

If it’s time to replace your mattress, our mattresses offer comfort tailored to you, with a range of perfectly supportive sleeping positions possible at the touch of a button. Find out more about how buying an Adjustamatic mattress can give you the best night’s sleep with our adjustable mattress buying guide.

If you are ready to buy a mattress but need more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 689 9823 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri), or drop us a message. We can organise a home visit for you to trial any bed or mattress, as well as give you professional and reliable advice. Let’s help you get a good nights sleep!