How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

By Alterra Pure   |  

SURPRISING ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION: 
HOW OFTEN TO WASH YOUR BEDDING?

How often should you wash your sheets is a common question asked by many people who have purchased our organic bedding products.  The answers are as varied as the people who ask the question.  A good rule of thumb is to wash your sheets every two weeks, once a week if you tend toward night sweats.  

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

photo:  ©Amy Kumler / Alterra Pure

THE AVERAGE PERSON'S RESPONSE TO "HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WASH MY SHEETS":  According to a survey by Mattress Advisor, the average person changes and launders their sheets about every 24 days.  Surprising, when asked how long would they consider it "gross" to not clean their sheets, respondents indicated 35 days as the line after which it was gross to not change their sheets.

MEN VERSUS WOMEN:  Not surprisingly, female respondents indicated they wash their sheets about every 19 days, while men will wait nearly a month.  Single men were the worst with sheet changes coming every 45 days while single women were not much better with a change about every 35 days. 

MARRIED VERSUS SINGLE:  Married couples change bedding more frequently, about every 20 days.

ALLERGIES:  If you have allergies, the Mayo Clinic recommends washing your bedding at least once a week.  They also recommend washing in hot water to kill any allergy inducing dust mites.  Wash more often as it takes only a couple days for your sheets to become covered in dead skin cells, sweat, saliva, and body oils - all rich nutrients for dust mites.  

HOW TO WASH ORGANIC SHEETS 

The specifics on how to wash organic sheets can be found in our general care instructions at:  HOW TO WASH SHEETS AND ORGANIC BEDDING

Below, we take a look at laundering methods that are best for sustainability and the environment.

PRE-TREATMENTS:  When using eco-friendly detergents, a little pre-treatment can help get those difficult stains out in normal washing - and it can be sustainable as well.  An enzyme based pre-treatment will help remove stains in a natural way.  Using bio-based enzymes works to loosen and degrade a range of stains:  Here is a sample of the enzymes and the stains they effect:

  • protease (protein based stains)
  • amylase (carbohydrate and starch stains)
  • cellulase (helps cottons release stains)
  • lipase (fat based stains)
  • mannanase (food based stains)
  • perctinase (fruit based stains)

Some of the best enzyme based pre-treatments include Biokleen's Bac-Out or Attitude Baby Stain Remover.

For whiter whites, without using bleach, use an oxygen based whitener such as Nellies or Seventh Generation is best.

COLD WATER WASH:  It is reported that nearly 75% of the energy used in a laundry cycle is for heating water.  To save energy, use cold water and in cold water, Liquid detergents work better.   Smithsonian magazine has done the math and determined that washing in cold is a great way to reduce environmental impact.  Naturally, wash with like colors or separately.

DRYING:  We can't recommend line drying enough.  Simply said, line drying brings that fresh feeling of cool, crisp comfort while eliminating the need for energy use by a dryer.  It's the best of all words: a fresh feel, no ironing, energy saving, and sustainable.  OK, we know, not everyone can line dry sheets. 

With machine drying, it's best to use medium or low heat for energy efficiency.  To reduce wrinkles, remove from the dryer promptly and re-make the bed or fold the sheets right away.  Percale Sheets will wrinkle.  Organic Percale Sheets will wrinkle more - organic uses no toxic, anti-wrinkle treatments.  When it comes to luxury, wrinkled sheets are "in."

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets?

photo: ©Alterra Pure

IRONING:  Want that crisp hotel bed feel?  Iron your sheets.  Yes, it takes time, but the results and feeling are amazing.  It's best to dry until there is just a bit of dampness remaining, remove from the dryer and iron on high heat.

DRYER SHEETS:  STOP!!  Stop using dryer sheets, immediately.  With scented laundry sheets, 44% percent dispensed at least one carcinogenic air pollutant.  Many dryer sheets contain Acetaldehyde.  Both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued warnings of the carcinogenic effect of acetaldehyde on humans.

DRYER BALLS:  Dryer Balls make such a better option for softening.  Plus, they fluff during drying and can reduce drying time, thus saving energy.  Flock of Friends Eco Dryer Balls from Friendsheep make a great alternative.   Woolzies are also a good choice for dryer balls.  At Alterra Pure, we really like the artisan maker Brooke Petry and her Bog Berry hand-made dryer balls.  You can find Bog Berry dryer balls at Food52.

dryer balls are a great way to dry organic sheets and bedding

photo:  ©Food52 / Bog Berry

As you can see, questions such as how frequently you should wash your sheets has no simple answer, but more is better.  How to clean your sheets is a little more straight forward.  For more information, refer to some of the resources below.

OTHER RESOURCES:

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) maintains a database of products and provides an eco-friendly rating for each.  There are also reviews on laundry and other products for you to research.  Click here for more info: EWG Laundry Product Database.

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