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  • Your Bed Sheets Might Be Dirtier Than You Realize. Here's How Often You Should Wash Them

    Fresh, clean bed sheets mean a more comfortable time in bed!
    by Kate Borbon .
Your Bed Sheets Might Be Dirtier Than You Realize. Here's How Often You Should Wash Them
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  • There is nothing more satisfying than getting into a soft bed dressed in clean, fresh sheets at the end of a long, tiring day. But making sure your sheets are always fresh takes a lot of work because it can accumulate more filth than you might realize.

    So, how often should you wash your bed sheets?

    As a general rule of thumb, experts recommend washing bed sheets at least once every two weeks, so that you get rid of all the nasty bacteria and microbes they accumulate regularly.

    However, there are a couple of conditions that might require you to wash your sheets more often than the recommended frequency. For instance, Good Housekeeping says that if you sweat a lot in bed or in general, you need to wash your sheets once a week. If you have just been sick, you need to wash your bed sheets and pillows right away.

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    Other factors that can impact how often you need to wash your sheets include your nightly habits (such as what you wear to bed and whether you eat in bed or not) and even the number of people who share that bed.

    “If you share a bed, it gets twice the wear,” Tricia Rose, founder of textile company Rough Linen, tells Real Simple.

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    Raman Madan, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at Northwell Health and an assistant clinical professor at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, tells Reader’s Digest that getting into bed without showering after exercising or being outside for a long time can also mean having to wash your sheets more frequently.

    “You can introduce many germs and allergens to your sheets which are not going anywhere without being washed,” Dr. Madan says.

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    Washing your sheets every two weeks might sound like too much work, especially for parents who already have a lot on their plate. But once you know just how filthy those sheets can get in such little time, the work might seem more than worth it.

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    According to Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, sheets tend to collect a lot of oil, sweat, dirt, and makeup.

    “Not washing your sheets regularly puts all of this in close contact with your skin for several hours at a time while you sleep,” Dr. Zeichner tells Reader’s Digest. “This can lead to a variety of problems ranging from skin irritation to acne to possibly even infections in a worst-case scenario.”

    Laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette also describes what can happen when bed sheets are not washed regularly. “During sleep, we continue to perspire, and body oils and soil are released. It is possible to find saliva, urine, genital fluids, and [fecal] matter in the [fibers],” Leverette tells The Tab.

    She continues, “Athlete’s foot and other fungi can be transferred from fabrics. Infrequent cleaning of sheets and pillowcases allows the fluids to seep into the pillows and mattresses, and those are much more difficult to clean than tossing sheets in the washer.”

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    How do you wash your sheets properly?

    To figure out the most appropriate way to wash your bed sheets, take a look at the labels of your linens, which typically contain information on the products’ fiber content and how to clean them properly. The Spruce says that sheets made of cotton or cotton/polyester blends are to be washed in hot water with a heavy-duty detergent to get rid of body oils and soil.

    The Spruce also discourages using fabric softeners when laundering sheets as well as pillowcases, as these can reduce the absorbency of natural fibers and make the sheets uncomfortable to sleep in, especially for those who sweat a lot in bed. Instead, here’s a cheaper alternative: Try adding some distilled white vinegar to the final rinse cycle of your sheets. This will help get rid of residue that might make your sheets feel stiff.

    When drying your sheets, Good Housekeeping suggests removing them from the dryer while they are still damp so that they are easier to iron out. “A hot iron will help remove germs — useful if you’ve washed the bed linens at a cooler temperature.”

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