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Sharp Health News

How often should you change your sheets?

March 30, 2017

How often should you change your sheets?

On average, we spend one-third of our lives in bed. So frequent sheet cleaning seems like a no-brainer. But some bedding, like your mattress pad or comforter cover, could skip a few loads. We stripped your bed (no, not literally) to see how often you really need to clean it.

Sheets

Cleaning frequency
We shed skin cells, sweat and oil every night. Keep your sleep space clean, and avoid dust mites, by washing your sheets once a week. If anyone in your household is sick, wash sheets (or at least the pillowcases) daily.

Cleaning instructions
Use the hot water option on your washing machine, and the hot cycle on your dryer. This will help kill germs, although it could shrink your sheet's fibers.

Pillows

Cleaning frequency
Pillow stuffing can attract allergy-causing dust mites, so they should be washed a few times throughout the year.

Cleaning instructions
Check your pillow's label — most down and synthetic varieties are machine-washable. Use the gentle cycle, hot water and liquid detergent. Wash two pillows at the same time for balance, and put them through the rinse cycle twice. To dry, use the low setting on your dryer, and add two clean tennis balls to avoid flattening.

Pillow and mattress protectors

Cleaning frequency
Pillow and mattress protectors extend the life of your bedding, and help ward off dust mites. Even though they're covered by sheets and pillowcases, you should still wash your protectors once a month — especially if you have allergies or a pet.

Cleaning instructions
Covers and pads can have a variety of washing options, so check the label. But in general, most can be machine-washed in warm water, and dried on the low setting.

Comforter covers

Cleaning frequency
If you're washing your comforter cover as frequently as your sheets, you may be washing it too much. If you don't use a top sheet, then yes, wash the cover once a week. But if you do use a top sheet, wash your comforter cover once a month.

Cleaning instructions
As a general rule, wash your comforter cover the same way you wash your sheets — with hot water and a hot dryer. If your cover is decorative and you're worried about shrinking, use lower temperatures and detergents meant for delicates.

Comforters

Cleaning frequency
As long as your comforter has a cover, you shouldn't have to wash it as often as your sheets. Instead, wash it a few times a year — as frequently as you should be washing your pillows. Without a cover, your comforter needs more cleaning. Wash it once a week if you don't use a top sheet, and once a month if you do.

Cleaning instructions
Not all comforters are built the same, so check the label. Otherwise, your washing machine — as long as it has a large enough capacity — should do the trick. Wash on the gentle or delicate cycle using warm, not hot, water. Dry it on low heat with a few clean tennis balls to plump it up.

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