It Is Probably Time to Wash Your Sheets

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Photo: Chrissie Kremer (Unsplash)

One possible (probable? Probable.) side-effect of spending more time (all the time? All the time.) at home is spending more time in bed. And that’s great, bed is the best place! But it also means that by now, if you haven’t already done so during these days (weeks? Months? Oh God.) of confinement, it is time to wash your sheets.

Here’s a question I get not infrequently: “@joliekerr how often should you wash bed sheets? Realistically.” And haha oh my God I absolutely love the phrasing because as I’m fond of saying, I live here in the real world with you and I take that into account when giving you cleaning advice. Advice is no good if you’re going to dismiss it out of hand, after all!

Which brings me to this thing that I developed years ago and that I shall now share with you: The Jolie Cleanperson Sheet Washing Scale. The idea here is that, instead of doing what most Professional Clean People do and giving you a rigid set of sheet washing protocols, I would be a little bit more Free To Be You And Me about things. And so, here comes the scale.

Jolie Cleanperson’s Sheet-Washing Scale

Once a Week: Ideal

Once Every Two Weeks: Totally Acceptable

Once a Month: That’s Fine. Not Good. Just Fine.

Once Every Six Weeks: Dicey

More Than Two Months: [CLUTCHES PEARLS]

There are, of course, considerations that will inform where you fall on the JCPSWS. Here are some of them:

  • Do you sleep at home every night? People who travel frequently (literally none of us rn, sigh) or who spend a portion of their week in a romantic (or whatever! I don’t know your life!) partner’s bed may not need to change their sheets as frequently.
  • Do you have easy access to laundry facilities? If not, you may not launder sheets as often because doing so is more of a chore.
  • Do you have more than one set of sheets? If you only have one set of sheets, changing them also means automatic laundry day and that might bump your sheet-changing time table out.
  • Do you shower before you get into bed at night? Do you sleep naked? One will leave your sheets a little less body soil-y, the other will do the opposite. Bet you can guess which is which!
  • Do you sleep alone or with a partner(s)? Two (or more) people in a bed = dirtier sheets.
  • Do you sleep with more than one partner? Washing sheets between partners is a good thing to do!
  • Do you not want one partner to know about the other partner? *fist bump* and also wow definitely wash the sheets between partners!
  • Do you care? You may just not care about having clean sheets in which case go ahead and sleep on dirty sheets. It’s your bed!

Washing Sheets & Pillowcases

There isn’t too much you need to know about laundering sheets and pillowcases—it’s pretty straightforward! Wash sheets in cold or warm water with regular detergent.


A laundry booster like OxiClean or Borax, used in conjunction with detergent, can offer extra stain removing help to eliminate buildup from body oil and skin that give sheets a dingy, yellowed cast.


Should you need to treat other kinds of stains on sheets, well, help is here my friends.

Washing Other Bedding

Washing comforters, duvets, blankets, etc, as well as pillows is also a good thing to do, though those items don’t need to be washed nearly as often as do sheets. Once or twice a year is good!


You absolutely should check the care tag on your pillows before laundering, because some fillings aren’t machine washable—but most are. Pillows, comforters, duvets, etc. can be washed in cold water, with regular detergent and dried thoroughly on a low heat setting.

I want to come in real hot for dryer balls, if I may, because pillow/comforter laundering is where they really shine. They serve two important purposes: 1. They help to speed up drying time, which is important because those bulky items will take a bit of time to dry (especially because using a low heat setting is ideal) and 2. They help to redistribute filling and generally fluff things up. Plus, the name “dryer balls” is funny and you can make lewd jokes about them.