Do You Need To Wash Bedding More During Summer? A Germ Expert Weighs In
With all that heat and humidity, lots of us sweat more in the summer months—and that includes when we're sleeping. Of course, it's important to wash your sheets and pillowcases all year round, but in the summer, all that sweat can lead to excess bacteria and odor in your bed. So, we asked a germ expert how often we should be washing our bedding now that summer is very much here.
How often should we be washing?
The standard protocol for washing your sheets and pillowcase is roughly once a week, according to environmental toxin expert and the founder of Slightly Greener Tonya Harris. "But there are a couple of different reasons why you should wash bedding more often in the summer," she explains.
For one thing, we're obviously sweating more, which can lead to bacteria and odor. But on top of that, she adds, "Allergens such as pollen can travel inside with you, so washing your sheets more frequently will help cut down on those allergens (and dust mites) that can cause symptoms."
As such, during the summer, you'll want to double up and wash sheets and pillowcases as frequently as every three or four days. That should be sufficient to keep bacteria, odors, and allergens at bay, Harris says.
And if you use a top sheet or a thin blanket, those need to be washed the same as sheets and pillowcases, she adds, "But if you have that top sheet in between you and the blanket and/or comforter, the blanket can be washed every four to six weeks, while the comforter can go about two months in between washes."
How to clean & maintain bedding in the summer.
As with all things cleaning, always check your individual labels for care instructions, Harris says. Cotton, for example, can be washed in hot water, while other materials will do better in cooler washes.
"Use a gentle detergent to wash bedding on the warmest setting recommended in the care instructions, and then tumble dry on low," she suggests. It's also helpful to have extra sheets on hand, to reduce wear and tear from so many washes.
For some deep-cleaning action, Harris also recommends vacuuming your mattress two to three times per year to limit bacteria and allergens. You can also sprinkle the mattress with a thin layer of baking soda, she notes, letting it sit for a few hours before vacuuming, to eliminate odors. "Don't forget to flip your mattress and vacuum both sides!" she adds.
And lastly, showering before bed is a good idea to reduce things like body oils, bacteria, odors, and allergens, Harris adds, and can give you a little extra leeway time between washes.
The bottom line.
The rumors are true: We should be washing our bedding more in the summer—particularly the sheets and pillowcases. Tricks like showering before bed can help to some degree, but if you want to cut back on odor and bacteria, your best bet is to throw the bedding in the wash and keep some spare sheets handy. In the market for some new ones? We've got you covered with these cool, breathable picks.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.