Are you changing your sheets too little… or often? Here’s what the experts say

Once a week? Every three days? More? Less? What is truly frowned upon? Knowing how often to change your sheets feels like it should have a straightforward answer. But as with most things, it’s not black and white.

The reason we change bedlinen in the first place is, of course, to keep our sleeping space clean, which makes curling up in bed at night a little bit more luxurious, not to mention hygienic.

“An average person spends between 48 and 64 hours in bed a week,” says Danielle Mason, head of product development at The Fine Bedding Company.

Piglet In Bed Linen Bedding Botanical GreenCredit: Piglet in Bed

“And, whether from our sweating and overheating in the night or just through the oils, skin cells and dirt naturally secreted from our bodies that build up over time, our sheets will harbour more germs the longer they’re left unwashed.”

But how long should you leave your sheets between changes, and can you change them too often? Our experts have the answers.

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How often should you change your sheets?

The one-week rule might not suit all

“It’s all a matter of personal choice as to how often,” says Jessica Hanley, founder of Piglet in Bed. “For optimum freshness, we recommend changing your bedding once a week but no more than twice a week; over-washing your bed linen can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on the fabric.”

Some lifestyle factors will naturally impact how frequently you need to change your bedsheets, too. We spoke to Beatrix A Schmidt, a sleep coach for adults and author of The Sleep Deep Method, who stresses that, above everything, self-awareness should be the defining factor in how often you actually change your bed sheets.

“It’s never about ‘change it once a week because you have this’,” says Schmidt. “It’s measuring how you respond to something. So, it’s always self-awareness first.”

Considering your daily routine and home setup is key.

“For example, if somebody has a shower in the evening versus in the morning, how much dirt or dust you carry into bed with you will change as well,” continues Schmidt.

Dr David Garley, director of The Better Sleep Clinic, says: “A key approach in sleep is to acknowledge that everyone is very different. There are no blanket approaches to how you should improve your sleep, or how frequently you should change your bed sheets. Most people change their sheets weekly, though many do this more frequently depending on personal preference.”

Factors that can influence how often you change your bedding

It’s important to understand your sleep persona

These are the different factors that might influence how often you change your bedding.

1. You have pets

Anyone with a cat or dog will know that keeping them off the bed is no easy feat. Plus, most of us might like their companionship. All it means is that you might have to tweak your routine and wash your bedding more frequently. Mason recommends washing bedding every three or four days if you do have pets.

Again, it’s all about personal preference. One week might still be enough unless you or anyone in your household is particularly sensitive. “In most cases, changing your bed sheets weekly is a good practice if you have a pet that sleeps with you, but they should be washed more frequently if you or anyone in your household suffers with allergies,” says Hanley.

A good piece of advice is to cover pillows with the duvet or other areas of the bed (where you know the pet will rest) with a blanket. Hanley further recommends those with pets in their sleeping place should “vacuum your bedroom regularly and lay down a washable blanket, or a pet-specific bed cover should your furry friends nestle next to you at night”.

2. You have allergies

If you find you are particularly sensitive, with an allergy to dust, it might mean that you will benefit from changing your bedlinen more frequently. Mason recommends washing bed linen every three or four days if you experience allergies to dust mites.

Allergies to dust mites can be associated with asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis, according to Allergy UK, which says washing bedding once a week is sufficient. it advises a 60°C (140°F) wash to kill dust mites as a lower temperature will only wash them away temporarily. It also recommends taking extra precautions with “allergen-proof barrier covers on all mattresses, duvets and pillows”.

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3. You experience night sweats

Some people simply sleep a little warmer or cooler than others, and different life changes might play a part in this.

“If you are perimenopausal and experience night sweats, you are more likely to change your sheets more frequently,” says Garley.

Schmidt notes: “If you overheat or become very cold at night, this might change the frequency with which you change your bedding. You might have a cover on the bed which you don’t wash as often, but you do wash the bed linen.”

Similarly, if you sweat more around the neck area, you might consider changing your pillowcases more frequently. Consider the quality of your bed linen and opt for breathable materials such as cotton, linen and bamboo, rather than synthetic materials, for a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Day to day, you might benefit from not making your bed straight away. “To instantly refresh your bed, just throw back the covers, open the windows and air your bed before making it to avoid body moisture from lingering,” suggests Hanley.

What is the best temperature to wash bed sheets at, for hygiene?

You don’t need to go too hot

Be sure to always check the care label when washing your bedding and/or duvet and pillows. For linen covers specifically, Hanley recommends a 40°C (104°F) wash. “In order to effectively remove natural body oils and dirt from your bed linen, we recommend washing your linen at a gentle 40°C, which is perfectly adequate and uses less energy than higher temperatures.”

Don’t forget about your pillows!

“As well as your bed linen, your duvet and pillows are also challenged by sweat, dirt and dust mites, and homeowners often neglect these when it comes to washing and looking after your sleeping environment,” says Mason.

“Always check the care instructions, and check whether your duvet and pillows are synthetic or natural, but we’d recommend washing them every few months if you suffer from allergies, or at least twice a year otherwise.”

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Camille Dubuis-Welch

Written by Camille Dubuis-Welch she/her

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Camille is a freelance writer based in north London with her cat and two friends. She has been writing on lots of interesting subjects over the past few years, starting out with a travel blog and online fashion column when she was studying English Language and Italian at the University of Manchester. Cam has been in love with everything interior design and garden-related since before she can remember. She previously worked for Yankee Candle, as well as Groupon, and is the former deputy editor of realhomes.com where she got to collaborate with some very inspiring DIYers and focus on small-space improvements.