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How Bad Is It To Not Wash Your Sheets Every Week?

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 11/01/2017 Cheryl S. Grant

We tend to believe that our homes are clean, cozy places. But no matter how vigilant we might be with housecleaning, there are places that get filled with undesirable things such as dust mites, fungal elements, fecal matter, pollen, dander, and dead human cells.

Gross! What’s worse, one of those hotbeds of germs is the very place you rest for a sweet slumber. That’s right—your bed.

Some of the 500 million cells we shed daily, along with our perspiration, pollen, pet dander, fungi, and mold, are all snuggling in bed with us at night.

If that isn’t enough to inspire you wash your sheets regularly, consider that more than 84 percent of beds in America have dust mites, and they love to live in our sheets and feed off of our dead skin.

According to Lisa Ackerley, MD, a U.K.-based hygiene doctor, if you don’t wash your sheets weekly, you could be putting yourself at risk of serious viruses and infections, including skin and wound infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and even bacteraemia (blood stream infection).

© iStock/dny59

Although experts recommend that sheets be washed at least once a week, a survey of men conducted by the mattress company Ergoflex found that nearly half (49 percent) of single men wash their sheets only four times a year!

Women are slightly more conscientious. In a recent Yahoo survey of nearly 1,200 women, 44 percent of respondents said they wash their sheets once a week, 31 percent said they wash them twice a month, and 16 percent said they wash them only once a month.

Some 32 percent of readers said that they almost never change out their pillows.

The best way to get rid of all that yucky stuff is to wash your sheets a minimum of once a week using the hottest temperature suggested on the care label.

The hotter the water, the more likely you are to kill most of the germs, remove dust mites, and stop pollen from sticking to the fabric, which is especially important if you have allergies, according to research in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. These are the common laundry mistakes that could be damaging your stuff.

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