Mind & Body

This Is How Often You Should Wash Your Sheets, According to a Microbiologist

The only thing better than a big, warm, cozy bed is a big, warm, cozy, clean bed. No, this is not your mother talking. It can be easy to accidentally go through a few loads of laundry without remembering to strip the sheets off your bed, but according to a microbiologist, you shouldn't let it slip.

Keep It Clean

Washing bedsheets is a pain; that's objective fact. It's also fact that we should all be doing it a lot more often. To prevent your bed from becoming a "botanical garden" of bacteria and fungus, New York University microbiologist Philip Tierno says to wash your sheets once a week. That may seem excessive. But consider the fact that your sleeping station is prime real estate for fungi and bacteria that come straight from your slumbering body in your sweat, spit, and other bodily fluids. The 26 gallons of sweat you'll produce in bed every year help create an "ideal fungal culture medium" between your sheets, whether you like it or not. Beds can also play host to foreign microbes like animal dander, pollen, soil, lint, dust-mite debris, and feces. Not-so-fun fact: Your pillow alone can house as many as 16 species of fungus.

If washing your sheets once a week is a shocking suggestion to you, you're not alone. According to CNN, the majority of participants in a survey strip the bed every 10 to 14 days. Many of the participants go three and even four weeks between bedsheet washings. But once a week is the recommended amount, and when you do wash, you should use hot water (130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit/54 to 66 degrees Celsius) and a hot dryer cycle to kill all germs.

What's the Worst that Can Happen?

All the junk that can live in your bed will build up into significant grime in as little as a week, according to Tierno. Going much longer without washing your sheets will cause real health symptoms, too. Ever woken up from a good night's sleep with a random scratch in your throat? Dirty sheets could be the culprit. Allergens living in your sheets and pillows live right where your mouth and nose nestle at night. Regardless of whether or not you have allergies, these contaminants can trigger sniffing and sneezing. Just to be safe, you should consider getting a load of laundry going tonight.

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Some people have fastidious mothers who taught them how to clean. For everyone else, there's Martha Stewart. Pick up "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home" so you don't need to ask the internet how to clean your toaster. We handpick reading recommendations we think you'll like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto January 16, 2018

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