We spoke to two dermatologists to get the lowdown on how dirty sheets can impact our skin and overall health, and how often we really need to be changing them.
On average, we sleep (or should sleep — shoutout to all the insomniacs out there), for eight hours per night. It raises the question, how often should we be washing our sheets? Influencer Stacey Solomon sparked debate on social media recently when she revealed on Good Morning Britain that she washes her sheets once a week.
She’s a mother of how many? She is honestly saying she changes every single bed every single week AND do the housework? She must have a cleaner
— Trish (@Trish270M) January 25, 2023
‘She’s a mother of how many? She is honestly saying she changes every single bed every single week AND does the housework? She must have a cleaner’ one user wrote on X.
Another user agreed that once a week was too frequent, writing ‘As I don’t go to bed in the clothes I wear during the day, I wash my bedding every 2 weeks…I think that’s plenty’.
Although it might seem like a lot of work, some dermatologists agree that you should actually be changing your sheets at least once a week, if not more — especially if you’re dealing with skin issues such as acne or psoriasis.
“If you have a bacterial or inflammatory skin condition such as acne, I recommend cleaning your sheets at least two times per week, or as frequently as desired,” says Cigdem Kemal-Yilmaz, chemical engineer and founder of Skin Masterclass.
“Our skin comes into contact with various environmental pollutants, oils, sweat and dead skin cells throughout the day, even in the colder months,” says Cigdem. “When these substances accumulate on our bedding, they create an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria, fungi and dust mites, which can in turn contribute to a host of skin and health issues. Dirty sheets can harbour bacteria that may exacerbate existing acne or contribute to the development of new breakouts.”
For optimum skin health, Cigdem recommends washing your sheets and pillowcases at the warmest possible setting, as a warm wash should kill any lingering pathogens. When drying sheets, a tumble dryer or allowing your sheets to dry in an area with good airflow can help to prevent the occurrence of damp.
It’s not just your skin that can suffer — not washing your bed sheets often enough can potentially contribute to other health concerns, including asthma. Symptoms of asthma may worsen due to the ongoing exposure of dust mites, which over time, can trigger asthma and allergy attacks to those with the condition, or those with allergies.
Likewise, for those who suffer with eczema, dirty sheets can worsen associated symptoms such as itching, says dermatologist Dr Hamdan Abdullah Hamed.
“Of course it’s up to personal preference, but really, you should be washing your sheets at least once a week, regardless of material,” says Dr Hamdan. “This will help to combat the build-up of bacteria, viruses, bodily fluids and fungi, each of which can trigger a skin reaction, particularly for those with sensitive skin.”
If you’re looking to take your beauty sleep to the next level, Dr Hamdan recommends investing in a silk or satin pillowcase. “Silk pillowcases have long been used to improve a range of skin and hair conditions. Skin wise, they’re known to reduce friction, which might help prevent wrinkles. Silk also absorbs less moisture than standard bedding materials, which can help maintain skin hydration. They’re also hugely beneficial for your hair, as the smooth texture will help to prevent damage and split ends from worsening.”
So, there you have it. To help keep your skin in tip top condition, you’ll want to make sure you’re washing your sheets at least once a week, and perhaps invest in a silk pillowcase while you’re at it.