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Sooo...How Often Am I Supposed To Wash My Sheets, Anyway?

Illustration for article titled Sooo...How Often Am I Supposed To Wash My Sheets, Anyway?
Photo: Sylvie Tittel (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

Each year in March, since the dawn of time (2012), I put a bed-making challenge to my audience: Make your bed every day for the month. That’s all! And I’m not even that much of a stickler about it. If you miss a day, eh, big whoop, just pick back up again on the next day.


This year, our very own Style Girlfriend Megan Collins joined me on my podcast, Ask a Clean Person, to help me kick off the bed-making festivities. Give it a listen! It was great to have her on the show for a little Inventory crossover fun.

To kick things off over here, I rounded up a few questions I get allllll the time — these are probably the most common things I’m asked when it comes to sheets and other bedding, but there’s lots of other territory to cover on the subject, so if you’ve got problems I haven’t addressed here, shoot me an email with the subject line “LAMOB.”

Oh right, LAMOB — you’ll be wanting to know about that. It stands for Let’s All … Make Our Beds, and it’s a truly terrible acronym that, like a middle school nickname (mine was Chovie, what was yours?), stuck and I can’t abandon it now.

Hey, umm, how often am I supposed to be washing my sheets?

There are all kinds of factors that go into how often to change/wash bed linens (I use those terms interchangeably but sometimes one or the other trips people up. What I mean is, essentially, “put clean sheets on the bed.”): If you sleep naked or clothed; if you sleep alone or with a partner or with partners or with children or with pets or with, well, you get the idea; if you’re a hot sleeper versus a cold sleeper; how much time and energy you have for laundry, etc. Bearing that in mind, and with the understanding that you should do you because they’re your sheets and no one but you (and your partner or partners or with children or pets or, well, you get the idea) has to sleep on those sheets, here are guidelines I’ve developed:

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]

Okay but what about pillows, and comforters or duvets? Am I supposed to clean those?

Yup, but you don’t need to do so nearly as often as the sheets. In fact, 1-2 times a year is enough! Maybe more if you have pets or children who sleep in, on or around your bed because they produce more messes (pee, you guys, I’m mostly talking about pee) and also contribute to that sort of stale body smell that will take root in your pillows, comforters, duvets, etc. over time.

The care tag will tell you how best to clean these things when the time comes but, for the most part, those items are machine washable. If your own washer is on the small side, a trip to a laundromat, where there will be oversized washers, may be needed. Also, when it comes to drying filled items like pillows, duvets, comforters, etc. using dryer balls is smart because they will speed up drying time and help to redistribute the fluff.

Jolie, I’m a grubby monster who made [X,Y,Z] mess of my bedding, can you help me? 

Friend, I am also a grubby monster. You know how I got to be so clean in the first place? By making every damned mess in the world! So help is here. Let’s do this thing lightning-round style:

I got makeup on my sheets, help! Yup yup, you need OxiClean MaxForce Laundry Stain Remover Spray. Spray it on the makeup stains, rub the fabric against itself, and the makeup should come right out. Then, launder the linens as usual.


I spilled food on my sheets, help! Gotchu, boo. You need Shout Triple-Acting Stain Remover Spray. Same instructions as the Oxi — spray, frottage, launder. Shout is especially great on chocolate stains, which I absolutely did not learn after smearing chocolate on my white duvet cover while eating said chocolate/my feelings in bed one night. Nope! Not this grubby monster.


My white/light-colored sheets are just…dingy, help! Yeah, that’ll happen alright. Don’t despair, just dissolve a scoop of OxiClean White Revive in enough hot water to fully submerge whatever needs to be un-dinged, and soak the soiled items for several hours prior to laundering. There’s actually a lot more to be said on this topic, but I’ll save that for a future column all its own.

My white/light-colored sheets are a gross yellow-y color, help! Oh yay, you asked the best question of them all because it gives me the excuse to tell you the best best best answer! Bluing, my child. You need bluing! “What now?” BLUING! It does exactly what it sounds like it does, it turns things blue. “Jolie, WHAT now??” Here’s the jam: Blue and yellow fall on opposite ends of the color perception wheel, so in the case of whites that have gone yellow, adding a tinge of blue will make them appear bright white to the eye. Bluing!


I dunno, everything just kind of smells bad, help? Sure thing. If you find that your bedding — sheets or the bigger stuff like pillows and comforters, try either laundering them using a sports detergent like Sport Suds, a known odor-blasting detergent like Dr. Bronner’s, or adding an odor-eliminating booster like Zero Odor or our old pal white vinegar to the wash.


Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person