Proper Mattress Care: When and How to Clean Your Sheets

When you think about how much time you spend in your mattress, it really just makes sense for you to take a bit of time and make sure it’s up to your personal standards of cleanliness.

Your body sloughs off all kinds of nasty things throughout the night, and all sorts of different problems can arise when it comes to your bedclothes. 

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about caring for you sheets.

How Often Should You Wash Sheets?

Most experts agree that you should wash your sheets at least once per week.

 This might seem like a lot, but keep in mind just how much gunk gets on your sheets over the course of that week.

Your body sheds about 1.5 grams of dead skin cells every day, which is enough to feed a million dust mites.

Although not all of this sheds off onto your bedsheets, a lot of it does!

Obviously, this is especially problematic if you’re allergic to dust mites.

In addition to dead skin, your body is also squeezing out tons of oils and sweat throughout the night, all of which comes off on your sheets.

You can help reduce this by making your bed each morning, since this will give your sheets a better chance to dry all that liquid grossness away, while also limiting the possibility of wrinkles.

Washing Out Bacteria in Bedsheets

Lots of different bacteriaIn addition to all the visible nastiness that ends up on your sheets from your body or whatever grime you’ve been trekking through, bedsheets can also be havens for unwanted bacteria.

So while you’ll typically be fine if you’re running a load of wash with your sheets at least once a week, if you’ve been lying in bed sick, the bacteria on your sheets can stick around even as you’re trying to get better.

To keep the germs from gaining back the upper hand, be sure to wash your sheets as soon as you start feeling yourself getting on the upswing from a sickness.

Throw everything into a load of wash that’s as hot as you can make it, and if possible, leave your mattress naked for a few hours so any moisture that’s accumulated can get the chance to evaporate away.

Keep in mind that running a load of wash on too cool a temperature with too many items might not actually kill the bacteria you’re hoping to.

Especially when you’re sick, you always want to run sheets in smaller loads than you might normally be used to.

You might also want to make a habit of this the rest of the time, too, since bacteria can accrue on sheets no matter how healthy you are.

Washed Sheets = Nicer Sleep

OK, now for a lighter note.

If all that gloom and doom about bacteria and dust mites wasn’t enough to scare you straight, consider this finding from the National Sleep Foundation.

78% of Americans feel more excited to go to bed with fresh-smelling sheets, and 74% say they get a more comfortable sleep!

It’s mostly just a psychological thing, but those clean sheets could have a real impact on how well-rested you are during the day.

How Should You Wash Sheets?

Woman puts laundry into washerMost sheets will be fine if you wash them in low-temperature cycles, either warm or cold.

These typically won’t kill all the dust mites that might be living on your sheets, though.

If you want to take care of those, you’re going to need to run your bedding through hot water—at least 130 degrees.

 It’s sometimes best to run your sheets with oxygen bleach if you can, since this will prevent the discoloration a lot of bedding experiences throughout its life.

I say oxygen bleach in particular because it’s a lot easier on your sheets than any of its chlorine-based counterparts.

White sheets are often your best bet with bedding since you don’t risk accidentally staining them with bleach, but keep in mind that if you use bleach too much, you risk wearing out your bedding.

Never use bleach on silk sheets.

How to Get Stains Out of Sheets

Thus far, we’ve mostly been talking about regular sheet care—stuff that most sheets are going to need throughout their lives.

But of course, we all know that part of the “normal” life of a sheet also involves stains.

It’s all too easy to get stains from just about any source on your bedsheets, and you’re most definitely going to want to get those out as quickly as possible.

Here’s how to do it.

Take Action and Wash Bedsheets ASAP

Although it might be tempting to just wait around until you run your next load of wash to get the stains out of your sheets, you really want to start working to get discolorations out as soon as you notice them.

This keeps whatever fluid you’re dealing with from having the time to really sink into the fibers of the fabric.

Take your sheet off the bed, and start rinsing or rubbing it with cold water.

Make sure the water goes all the way through to both sides of the sheet, and above all, do not use hot water.

This will do the exact opposite of what you want, causing the stain to set!

Apply Baking Soda to Bedsheets

While just rinsing and rubbing at your sheets might be enough to take care of the lightest stains, most of the time, you’re probably going to need a little more than that.

If you still have a good bit of the stain left behind, try mixing up some baking soda and water into a paste.

Rub this into the affected area until the discoloration comes out, and then brush off the paste and throw your sheets in a load of wash. 

Use a Clothesline for Bedsheets

Bed sheets and covers fresh and wet hang to dry on rope on side of big old building, sunny sunday day with sun shinning brightOnce your sheets are through the washer, it’s actually best to stick them out on a clothesline if you can, and not put them through the dryer.

This is because the heat of the dryer can cause anything left of the stain to remain in place.

This residual discoloration will be basically impossible to remove.

Getting Out Dried Stains in Sheets

Unfortunately, if the stain you’re looking at has already dried by the time you get to it, a lot of the techniques above probably aren’t going to work.

To force the stain into becoming workable again, soak your sheets in water for a few hours, and then go through the steps above.

How to Remove Odors From Sheets

Stinkiness is another big problem people often face in their sheets.

Typically, the problem is body odor—your sweat dries on the sheets, leaving a smell that won’t go away with normal loads of wash.

Here’s what to do.

Let Them Soak

The first thing you’re going to want to do is let your sheets soak in the sink.

Fill the sink with water, then add about one cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap.

Squish and scrub the sheets in your hands a bit to make sure your concoction fully saturates, then leave your sheets there to soak for at least 30 minutes.

Run the Wash

After you’ve done all this, you’re now going to throw your sheets in the drum of the washing machine.

Don’t turn it on yet, but pour in a half cup of baking soda.

Start up the washer on the “heavy soil” setting (or whatever your washer’s equivalent is), and make it as hot as the sheets can stand.


Once the load of wash is done, take out your sheets and give them a good sniff.

 If they still stink of BO, run them through the past few steps until they stop smelling awful.

Hang Bedsheets Out to Dry

Once the smell is finally gone, take your sheets out of the wash and stick them out on the clothesline to dry.

A clothesline is ideal here because the UV rays from the sun can help kill whatever bacteria remain on the sheets that might cause more of the unwanted odor.

Once they’re dry, take these puppies off the line and throw them back on your bed.

You’re good to go!

How to Get Better Sleep

Clean, odorless, stain-free sheets are often the key to a better night’s sleep.

Not only are they free of bacteria, dust mites, and disgusting fluids, but they feel better and smell better, too!

Properly cared-for sheets are often a great first step in improving your sleep.

But you want to go beyond just the basics and start building up your ideal sleep experience, you’re going to need to start thinking about the padding under those sheets.

I’m talking about your mattress!

A better mattress can seriously enhance your quality of life.

If you’ve been getting poor sleep, having trouble getting to sleep, or waking up with aches and pains, it might be about time to turn in that old mattress for a newer model.

Personally, I recommend the Saatva mattress or Amerisleep AS3, our highest-rated mattresses overall.

You might also want to try checking out our updated guide to the best mattress of 2018, and of course doing more research through our mattress reviews.

It’s all part of giving yourself the gift of easier, healthier sleep.

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