How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

As Gagliardi mentioned, throwing your set of sheets in the washer once a week is best, although Elks says you can likely push it to two weeks if you’re not a hot sleeper. The type of wash cycle you should do depends on the type of sheets you like to sleep in, so let’s cover the basics.

For cotton, satin, and polyester sheets, Gagliardi recommends washing in the hottest water possible in the heavy-duty cycle. For linen sheets made of flax, “care instructions typically recommend the delicate cycle, with lower agitation and spin speeds that help reduce wrinkling—which is good, but also means washing with cold water, which is less effective at cleaning,” Gagliardi notes. Silk sheets should be gently hand washed, unless the care label allows for a delicate or hand-wash cycle.

“And skip the fabric softener,” Elks says, particularly if you have eczema or sensitive skin. “Softeners can build up on fabric and cause irritation.” Fabric softeners will also make your fabrics wear out faster, and no one wants to make a habit out of buying new sheets too often.

What setting should I use on my washing machine?

You should generally wash your sheets in hot water or warm water to kill germs. Gagliardi suggests a laundry detergent that includes “enzymes, cleaning agents and builders.” But check the care tag on your sheets, because it may recommend cooler temperatures to preserve the fabric over time. In that case, you’ll just want to be diligent about washing your sheets more often to keep the body oil buildup at bay.

“Cold-water washing, or using a delicate cycle, can be enough when the item being washed isn’t that dirty and is washed frequently,” she continues. “But if sheets are allowed to get pretty dirty over time, increasing the wash temperature will help improve cleaning.”

Should I put my sheets in the dryer?

white sheets hanging on clothesline outside trees in background

To keep your colored sheets from fading, choose a lower heat setting on your dryer or consider hanging them up to dry.

Photo: Jan Hakan Dahlstrom/Getty Images

Yes, you can put your bed sheets in the dryer—in most cases. “For cellulosic and manmade fibers, dryers are generally okay, but natural protein fibers like silk and wool should not go in the dryer unless the care label specifically allows for this,” Gagliardi says. “One potential drawback of tumble drying, though, is that colored sheets will fade because of the heat of the dryer.”

To prevent your colored sheets from fading as much as possible, stick to a lower heat setting or hang them up to dry. And make sure to throw a few dryer balls in, since they’ll keep everything from bunching into the elastic of your fitted sheet.

How often should I wash my duvet and pillowcases?

The timing around washing your duvet or comforter comes down to whether or not you sleep with a top sheet. Top sheets insulate a duvet cover or quilt from the dirt of your body, so if you don’t sleep with one, you’ll have to wash your duvet more often. “A duvet cover can reduce the number of times you need to wash the actual duvet, but you’ll still need to wash it weekly if it’s effectively serving as the top sheet,” Gagliardi says. When a duvet is used in addition to a top sheet, then she advises washing once a month.

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