How often you should really change your sheets: 3 disturbing side effects of dirty bedding

GMB talks to Dr Hilary Jones about clean sheets

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There is nothing better than the soft satisfaction of clean bedding when it’s time to hit the pillow, but like many things, there is no reward without effort. Washing and drying an entire household’s worth of bedding can be a chore and while many of us enjoy the pleasure of rejuvenated bedding, putting off replacing the cosy layers on your bed could be more damaging than you think. As the world opens up once again our beds are taking the brunt of a long-day out – and this is your guide to keeping bedtime bacteria at bay.

Why it’s important to change your bedding

As lockdown restrictions have eased, households across the UK are unknowingly bringing more outdoor bacteria inside their homes.

Hopping into bed after a busy day out of the house can invite a host of nasty bugs and bacteria into your sheets.

Cluttering your bed with outdoor clothing, shoes and accessories can encourage dust mites and potentially harmful germs to spread onto your pillowcases and duvet – waiting to be snuggled up to at the end of the day.

The invisible presence of dust mites, bacteria and germs make them easy to ignore – but how can you avoid sleeping with these unwanted microbes?

How often should you change your bedding?

Pest control callouts for bed bugs have risen by 75 percent compared to last year in Britain alone.

The hitch-hiking nature of these bugs make them easily transferred from to bedding and are left to thrive when the sheets they now call home are left unwashed.

Washing your bedding on a weekly basis is the best way to keep your bed bacteria-free.

You don’t even have to wash your sheets each week, but having clean spares to replace used bedding is essential for a mite-free night’s sleep.

While weekly sheet-washing might seem excessive for your busy lifestyle, it’s important to remember that there are a whole host of factors which affect how often your bedding needs changing.

If you’re rarely home, you may want to do this a little less and if you’re an avid sleeper who loves the company of a furry four-legged friend, you may want to change your bedding more often

Scientific research has found that leaving your bedding for 14 days or more provides the perfect conditions for breeding bacteria, dust mites and dead skin cells – all of which can wreak havoc on sensitive skin.

The side effects of dirty bedding…

A good night’s sleep is valuable to our mood, health and productivity but a Google survey has revealed that a whopping 36 percent of UK adults admit they struggle to sleep on a weekly basis.

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While changing your sheets won’t fix insomnia overnight, clean bedding could play a bigger part in your night’s sleep than you think.

Allergens in your bed

Watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing could be signs of dust mites in your bed.

On their website, Allergy UK states that: “House dust mite allergy is very common and is associated with asthma, eczema and perennial allergic rhinitis.

“In people allergic to dust mites, it is often their droppings which cause the allergy.

“Each mite produces about 20 droppings every day and they continue to cause allergic symptoms even after the mite has died.”

Eczema sufferers are particularly prone to irritation in bed because their skin barrier is damaged.

Wash bedding frequently at 60 degrees or higher for a thorough clean.


Settling into the warm and humid environment that is your bed can take its toll on your skin, clogging pores with residual bacteria and dead skin cells which can mess with your skin’s ecosystem when sheets are left unwashed for too long. 

While full on acne is unlikely to emerge from dirty bedding, blemishes and unexpected break-outs on the skin may occur.

Fecal matter in your sheets

Sleeping naked is a liberating and comfortable option for many Britons but heading to bed unwashed and in the nude can spread fecal particles on your sheets.

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