How Often Should You Wash Your Cotton Sheets?

December 18, 2021 5 min read

Girl holding white sheets in a bedroom

Picture this, it is a Friday night, the workweek has drained you, and all you need is a little R and R. You finally emerge from the most relaxing shower of your life...or the week. You got all your essentials ready, Netflix, snacks, and some wine; you finally slide into bed, only to be confronted by the horrid realization that you have not washed your sheets in, uh, the longest time ever!

 White Dandelion Dreams Sheet Set southshore fine linens

Doing laundry, especially, bedding is the worse chore on my to-do list.

Come on, count them with me: fitted sheets, flat sheets, duvet, comforter, pillowcases, and a throw; no wonder I put it off for so long. But just like my crippling anxiety, the longer you put it off, the worse it will get.

According to board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, un-washed bedding can be the perfect breeding ground for a cesspool of bacteria. Yeah, that is not cute and a nightmare of a thought.

Now that we are all officially grossed out with our micro-biology bedding, it is time to figure out; how often should we wash our bedding? So what do you think a) once a week, b) once a month, or c) you wash your sheets? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are deathly allergic to household chores like I am, you will have a rude awakening!

 

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets Then?

Drum roll, please: so at an absolute minimum, you should be washing or at least switching out your cool crisp sheets once a week, according to Dr. Engelman. Now, pillowcases are a different story; you should be trading them out daily, but that is an entirely different conversation for another day.

At first, I was in shock. Is this necessary; do I need to wash this much? The more I thought about it, the more it began to make sense. We spend all day exposed to the elements, from dirt, dust, sweat, and bacteria; half the time, we end up introducing these environmental nasties to our bed.

 Southshore Fine Linens Sheet Set in Taupe

 

What About Cotton Sheets?

With so many different fabrics to choose from, one would think, does each textile have a different duration date? To keep it simple, no; no matter what the material may be, keeping your sleeping space sanitary is still a top priority. Even the best cotton sheets will not be any different.

Since now we know how often to wash our sheets, we can avoid sleeping with an army of bacteria.

The next step is learning how to sanitize and maintain cotton sheets properly. No, not all cotton sheets are equal! From cotton sateen to cotton percale, each type requires a little extra care and know-how; to correctly sanitize and extend the life of your bed linens. Trust me; your girl researched, so you do not have to.

Let us talk about detergents; there is so much more to them than how they smell. Take it from me; coming from someone who has developed an obsession with laundry TikTok videos of creating your very own laundry mix; such a vibe, but totally a bust for your fabrics. Cotton sheets take a little more care than most people think; milder detergents will be your best friends; not only will they effectively clean, but extend the life of your sheets to the max! Now, this one threw me for a loop.

Lady putting sheets into the washer, sheets are white

When washing cotton sheets, we must avoid bleach like the plague. I was at a loss for words; I have been committing such a laundry faux pas!  So how do we work around this, if by any chance we do stain our sheets, spot treating the mark will effectively clean the stains better than adding harsh bleach that can ruin the fibers and cause a shorter life span.

Actually, harsh detergents are not necessarily more effective in keeping your sheets cleaner. The harsh chemicals may react to certain stains and cause them to change colors and set in; rather than clean them.

When adding detergents to a load of laundry, the rule of thumb is to add one-fourth if not half under the recommended amount.

I can already feel the tensions rising; trust me, I am with you! When I found this fact out my anxiety went to an all-time high! Hear me out; adding too much detergent may make your machine unable to get the sheets completely rinsed out.

Here is the really crazy part; unrinsed detergent creates a coating on sheets that helps create an easier breading ground for bacteria. Can we get an EWW in unison? So remember, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, said it best, Less is more!

Abstraction in Grey sheets putting sheets on the bed

 

The Dreaded Wash Cycle; Should I Choose Delicate, Bulky, Or Normal?

Who knows, but adulting is all about learning, and there is no better way than to consult that trusty tag on the sheets themselves.

In general, you will notice that cotton sheets do better on a gentle cycle. A gentle cycle will keep your cotton sheets from becoming damaged, hmmm this is starting to sound like my therapy sessions. Back to our laundry, avoid a heavy-duty cycle, only use them if they have a particularly bad stain.

I hate to do this, but it is time to unlearn more things. As kids, we were taught to do the dishes with hot water to remove all the germs; like an ex off of your social media. While this may be right for the dishes, washing your cotton sheets can be detrimental over time.

Hot water not only causes the color to fade, but these high temperatures will shrink the fibers and weaken them over time. Don't get me wrong during flu and cold season it is recommended to wash with hot water, but the rest of the year, give those sheets a break!

Hot water isn’t the only thing that will cause your sheets to shrink, surprise surprise, a hot drying cycle can also cause your cotton sheets to shrink. This is an easy fix though, try drying them on a low heat cycle to avoid unneeded shrinkage and fiber damage.

Now the amount of time also plays a huge role. Even on cooler temperatures, the tumble cycle can take it out of your sheets after a while, so resist the urge to put the sheets in for a few more minutes if they’re still damp.

Aztec dreams in taupe sheet set from southshore fine linens

I am no one to talk about self-restraint, I am notorious for leaving my sheets to dry for over an hour! Instead, take a cue from the good old days and try to hang them up to dry.

Wow, who knew that laundry would be this much work, but now that we learned a few new things, our laundry day should be a little easier. Give your skin and sheets a little TLC, and you will begin to notice how much better you will sleep and feel. Some of the best cotton sheets to buy are at Southshore Fine Linens.



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