/ Home & Energy

How often do you wash your sheets?


According to a poll, one in ten wait a month to wash their bed sheets and just over a third change them every fortnight. So how often do you wash yours?

As I snuggled into my freshly laundered bed linen on Sunday night, heavenly wafts of lavender-infused fabric conditioner lulling me to sleep, I mused that getting into clean sheets was truly one of life’s simple pleasures.

This got me onto thinking when I’d last actually changed them. A fortnight ago? Three weeks? To my shame, I worked out that it was probably closer to a month. Admittedly, I hadn’t actually slept between them every night during that time, but I was still pretty disgusted by my slovenly ways – particularly because it’s been so humid (read sweaty) of late.

But it seems I’m not alone.

Washing sheets

According to a recent YouGov poll, one in ten confessed that they only washed their sheets once a month. Over a third did it every fortnight, while 33% did it once a week, with over half of those polled saying they believed bed linen became unhygienic after two to three weeks’ use. In the over-60s, 42% put their sheets in the wash after a week, while only 16% of 18-24s deemed this necessary.

Once a week? I’ve only ever done this when I’ve had to, such as when I’ve given up my bed for guests or my cat has trawled in half the garden and left a trail of muddy paw prints on my white duvet cover.

But the 33% of people who do wash their laundry every week could be on to something. During an average day, you shed around a million dead skin cells, the majority at night. On top of that, during a typical night’s sleep you can also lose about a litre of sweat, along with body oils. That combined with saliva, dirt from outside and other bodily fluids all adds up to a perfect breeding ground for up to 16 forms of bacteria plus dust mites. The latter of which won’t do you any favours if you suffer from allergies or asthma.

And then there’s the increased risk of getting an infection if you have a scratch or wound and sleep between dirty sheets.

Cost of cleaning

All pretty grim stuff, especially since the average person spends 35% of their lives in bed. But would this really persuade you to do battle with your duvet cover every seven days?

What about the added expense of putting on a load at 60°C (the Which? recommended temperature for washing bed linen. However, bear in mind that Which? research found that eight out of 12 washing machines tested by us do not reach 60°C on the 60°C program.) Just think of what the cost could be, and much more if you’re changing your whole family’s beds every weekend?

And then there’s the environmental impact. Did you know that the average washing cycle uses about 50 litres of water.

I don’t even want to begin to think about how often I need to wash the actual duvet and the pillows!

Is it really worth being so fastidious about cleaning your sheets?

How often do you wash your sheets?

Once a week (44%, 812 Votes)

Once a fortnight (31%, 585 Votes)

Two to three weeks (10%, 180 Votes)

Once a month (9%, 169 Votes)

Only when necessary (6%, 117 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,863

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Once a week and sometimes I think that’s not often enough. I simply could not sleep in a bed with stale sheets. Pillowcases get washed at the same time.


I wash sheets and pillowcases after four or five days. I suffer from allergies and don’t want to share by bed with dust mites or moulds.

There is not much point in Which? recommending that we wash bed linen at 60°C when we have already been told that most modern washing machines don’t usually reach 60°C on the 60 setting: http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/washing-machines/article/should-i-wash-at-60c The reason is that the current standard for washing machine performance relates to the effectiveness of cleaning than the temperature attained.


Hello, @wavechange and @dieseltaylor. You’re absolutely right on our research that found that washing machines weren’t reaching the recommended washing temperature of 60°C. I’ve now updated the convo to include this information. Thanks

dieseltaylor says:
13 September 2016

Thanks for the amendment.

However ” Just think of what the cost could be, and much more if you’re changing your whole family’s beds every weekend. ” is not as helpful as it might be as it does not quantify the cost . AFAIR the extra cost a year was around £32.

It also would be worth mentioning that if you heat your water by solar power, or by a heat-pump, or indeed gas you might wish to buy a washing machine with dual fill facility. If it only takes cold water you will be paying to heat hot water you already have. Miele actually list the saving for solar fill water washes in their manual.

My Bosch WM 2000 does have dual-fill and on my economy 60c wash I have 60C water straight to the machine from my immersion heater. I have checked the temperature.

Unhelpfully Which? do not show dual-fill in the technical criteria or in the side-list to refine the choice. I realise they are rare so surely it would be a worthwhile help to shoppers who can benefit from them. Perhaps a message you could convey to the people who instruct the test lab that Which? use.


In the days when all we had was a twin-tub washing machine we could fill it up with very hot water straight from the hot tank heated by the gas boiler. The wash process probably used more water but I reckon it was still more economical overall compared to heating all the water by electricity. I think the performance was no worse and the hygiene standard was better.


Thanks Melanie.

Washing powders and tablets generally contain a bleaching product whereas liquids and gels do not. Anyone who is washing bedding at 40°C should certainly be using products containing bleach to deal with microscopic wildlife.

dieseltaylor says:
10 September 2016

One thing revealed is that Londoner are the least clean! Fancy Which? missing that Londoners significantly wash less sheets less often.

I am pleased to note the Which? recommended cleaning temperature. Will Which? now be publishing the temperatures that machines reach when it is a claimed 60C?

And three years on what has happened with Defra and Which? regarding misleading temperatures? I do know that the German testing body discovered a machine that claims a 60C wash whilst only heating to 27C.

Whilst many nursing and ancillary staff, plus other trades need very clean washes from their home laundry is it not time Which? tested the 60C cycles and provide those so useful graphs that featured in the magazine in late 2013. AFAIR recall the Beko actually kept a temperature of over 55C for half an hour whilst some machines barely exceeded 43C and some reached a high temperature for a handful of minutes before dropping away completely.

AllergyUK actually do test machines and so might be worth looking at what they do to select the best for removing mites etc.

dieseltaylor says:
10 September 2016

“We each use an average of 160 litres of water each day at a cost of 55p – less than the cost of just one litre of bottled water.” southeastwater

So how expensive and environmentally damaging is one wash using 50 litres? Well the cost if you do two washes a week is around £15. The cost of the water is a reflection of the infrastructure costs to provide it and take it away for treatment. Looks like a bargain.

What does a litre or cubic meter of water cost?
Last updated
May 23, 2016
1 litre of water costs less than 1p
1 cubic metre costs £2.92
A cubic metre equals 1,000 litres of water

1,000 litres is equivalent to:
3,300 cups of tea
28 showers
13 baths
Flushing the toilet more than a hundred times

Speigal says:
10 September 2016

We wash the sheets weekly. The issue is whether to stuff the King size duvet, bottom sheet and pillow cases in one wash or divide into two. The latter more economical. It is more about freshening them up as not really dirty. We always wash at 30 degrees but now and again I do a 60 degrees on the grounds this kills bed bugs etc that cause allergies BUT most of these in the pillows! Ideally you should freeze your pillows once a year to kill these and replace every 2 years.

Joseph Graham Jones says:
10 September 2016

Flip the duvet cover after two weeks and change it once a month.

Change the bottom sheet and pillowcases every two weeks.


Sheets every week, quilt cover every week, the quilt every other week, pillowcases every other day (I use a messy treatment on my eyes overnight so pillowcases go in with every wash). Mattress and pillow protectors every 2 to 3 three weeks. Usually wash at 40°C except for the protectors @ 60°C. Never use fabric conditioner.

Bishbut says:
11 September 2016

My grandmother had a bath twice a year whether she needed one or not. I follow her ways in many things. Many people take hygiene to extremes insisting every thing is perfectly clean all the time. I do not seem to have suffered harm by not insisting on perfect cleanliness and doing things which would abhor many people in over 70 years.

maggie pinfold says:
11 September 2016

by most peoples standards i must be a really mucky person, I only wash my bedding when its dry weather,
and i am not working and i am in the mood. I also gave up ironing 23 years ago, think how many power stations of electricity i have saved. I think I better go and wash my sheets now!!!!