How Often You Actually Need to Wash Your Bedding, According to a Dermatologist

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"Here's what a dermatologist says—and how these changes better the planet."

Retreating to a comfy bed at night is something everyone looks forward to. But getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t just come from having a quality mattress. It also comes from having clean sheets.

Everyone seems to have a fairly strong opinion about how often to wash bedding. Some do it every few days, some do it once a week, and some stick to once a month. And, the more often you do laundry, the more energy and water you use. So, which is best?

According to Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, you can create a laundry routine that’s beneficial for your skin, your sleep, and the planet. Here’s how often to wash your sheets and comforter—plus, tips for doing it the eco-friendly way.

How Often to Wash Your Sheets and Comforter

how often to wash sheets

If you’re trying to limit how often you’re doing laundry, you’re in for a treat. While certain clothing items need to be washed more frequently, you can get away with washing your sheets once a week.

“For most people, washing all of your bedding every day is unrealistic, time-consuming, and unnecessarily uses up water and energy,” says Dr. Engelman. “It’s generally recommended that you wash your sheets at least once per week. Doing so helps prevent dead skin cells, oil, bacteria, pet dander, sweat, and other unwanted substances from building up.”

This is important because a build-up could worsen asthma, trigger allergic reactions (like contact dermatitis), and even cause breakouts. “Your pillowcases in particular harbor these substances, since that’s where your face rests at night,” Dr. Engelman says. “It’s yet another reason to always wash your face before bed!”

What about the rest of your bedding? When it comes to comforters or throw blankets, Dr. Engelman says to use your best judgment. If you sleep with a sheet between you and your comforter, the general rule of thumb is washing it once a month. If you don’t use a sheet, however, that should be more frequent.

“If you or others are using a blanket every day, you may want to wash it once a week or once every other week,” says Dr. Engelmen. “But blankets that aren’t coming into contact with the skin’s oils and bacteria may only need a wash every month or so to eliminate things like dust and pet dander.”

Washing Your Bedding the Eco-Friendly Way

Now that you know how often to wash your bedding, how do you go about it in a way that’s good for your skin and the environment? According to Dr. Engelman, there are some simple swaps that can make the process more eco-friendly.

Washing 101

“Materials that are prone to shrinking (like cotton, for example) should be washed in warm—not hot—water, and tumble-dried,” says Dr. Engelman. “If you have silk or satin sheets, you’ll need to be a little more careful with these more delicate fabrics. Either handwash or wash on a gentle cycle in cold water with like-fabrics (never mix them with rougher materials), then hang them to try.”

Opting for warm water (or even cold) versus hot water uses less energy. And while handwashing items takes more time, it also uses a lot less water than some washing machines. Hanging up items to air-dry is also a great way to reduce the amount of energy you’re using.

Laundry Essentials

Aside from how you wash, what you wash with also matters. Be sure to choose a laundry detergent that’s both sustainable and good for your skin. Dr. Engelman says a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to labels and avoid any artificial ingredients, dyes, and harsh chemicals.

“Avoid products that have ingredient lists made up of long, difficult-to-pronounce words, and that make amazing claims about fighting odor and brightening clothes,” says Dr. Engelman. “This often indicates the presence of potentially harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource to see how your detergent and other household products stack up.”

With a few swaps and a solid laundry schedule, you can catch some Zzzs knowing your laundry routine is doing you and the planet good.

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Here's what a dermatologist says—and how these changes better the planet.

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