How Often Should You Be Washing Your Towels and Bedding

Posted on Jul 29 2020 - 9:00am by Ashlea Curley

Washing your bedding and towels is one of life’s annoying chores. But slipping into those fresh clean sheets at the end of the day make it all worth while. However, what if, after stripping the bed, washing the sheets and re-making the bed, you find out that your sheets are not really that clean?

Your towels are absorbing more than water

Our towels absorb dead skin cells and bacteria, which survive in warm and damp conditions. Sharing towels could spread bacteria and viruses that lead to skin infections, cold sores and Athlete’s Foot. As such, New York microbiologist Philip Tierno recommends washing your towels every 2-3 days.

To eliminate as much of the bacteria as possible, your towels should be washed at 60C or more. If you prefer to wash at cooler temperatures, for added piece of mind, or following a bout of sickness, you could run the cycle with an antibacterial laundry cleanser to help eliminate up to 99% of bacteria.

In between washes, it’s best to air your towels after each use to reduce the moisture and breeding of bacteria. Maeve Richmond, founder and head coach of home organising company Maeve’s Method, told Stellar magazine it’s time to throw out towels when they have “retained a musty odour that detergent or bleach just cannot take away” (Stellar, 2017).

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Towels are a haven for bacteria and viruses.

Your bedding is playing host to millions each night

Bedsheets collect millions of skin cells, bacteria and bodily excretions every day. All of which attract dust mites which produce droppings that contain allergens that can trigger asthma and rhinitis symptoms. Our beds become the ideal breeding grounds for dust mites as they are warm and moist environments.

Professor Sally Bloomfield of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says, not washing sheets regularly increases the risk of spreading bacteria. Like bath towels, bed sheets should be washed at 60C once a week to kill the dust mites.

In between washes, you should pull back the duvet and open the windows to release moisture and humidity. Helping to change the environment that dust mites are fond of. Additionally, showering before bed is another way to reduce bacteria build up between your bedsheets as cleansing your body rids sweat and brushes off dead skin cells.

Don’t neglect cleaning your pillows

Pillows, whether they are made of feathers or synthetic materials, can contain bad odours and stains as well as bacteria. Like your bedding, pillows collect dead skin and dust mite faeces. As such, you should be washing your pillows as per their instruction every 3-6 months and replacing them every 2-3 years. Mostly, synthetic fillings should be washed at 60C to kill off dust mites, whereas feather fillings should be professionally dry cleaned.

To help protect and extend the life of your pillows, you should use a pillow protector in addition to your pillowcase.

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Bed bugs, that cannot be seen by the naked eye, hide amongst our sheets, duvets and pillows. Frequent washing at high temperatures is the only way to kill them.

Duvets are no exception to needing a good clean

We use our duvets every day, so it’s no surprise that they too can harbour live and dead dust mites, skin scales and fungus. If you’re wondering what could be triggering your allergies, this could be why. Duvets should be washed every few months or at least twice a year, and should be replaced every five years.

Increased washing means better hygiene and even sleep quality. If you’re suffering with allergies, frequently washing and changing your bedding can help to alleviate symptoms. At a minimum, keeping up a weekly routine and washing at the right temperature will ensure each of us of a clean and healthy lifestyle.

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