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Do you wash your sheets enough? Probably not

Your sheets may be harboring stowaways and other grossness. Here's what to do about it.

Chris Monroe/CNET
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Your sheets need to be washed more often than you probably think.

Chris Monroe/CNET

In a very short amount of time your sheets get covered with dead skin cells, oils from the skin, saliva and sweat. This can make for a dust mite paradise. 

These little critters are too small to see with your eyes, but they live in your bed and make a meal from dead skin flakes. The 1.5 grams of skin shed by a human each day can feed 1 million dust mites. Many people are allergic to dust mites and their feces. Yup, you've got bugs pooing in your bed. 

This makes washing your sheets and other bedding important. Here's when you should strip your bed down and head to the laundry room.

How often should wash your sheets?

Many people just don't wash their sheets often enough. A 2017 survey by Coyuchi, a home textile company, found that only 44 percent of the 1,000 Americans surveyed wash their sheets once or twice a month. Just 11 percent get around to it around once a season and 5 percent decrust their sheets only once or twice a year.

So just how often should you wash your sheets? Well, it depends on the circumstances. 

The Good Housekeeping Institute says you should wash your sheets -- and other bedding -- at least once every two weeks. If you have night sweats, or just sweat a lot when you sleep, bump washing up to once a week. 

If you're allergic to dust mites, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends washing your bedding at least once a week. You'll need to wash them in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 Celsius) to kill the dust mites.

Now, if you're sick with something contagious, the rules change. Sheets and other bedding need to be changed as soon as you feel better to prevent contracting the illness again. The water will need to be between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 65.5 Celsius) to kill the germs, so select the sanitize option on your washer. If your washer doesn't have a sanitize option, use the highest heat setting on your dryer.

Don't forget pillows! 

A 2017 survey by Canstar Blue  found that 29 percent of Australians never wash their pillows. While you may think that the pillow case protects your pillow, it really doesn't do as much as you'd hope. Sweat, dust and skin cells still make it onto your pillow. Plus, washing can fluff them up and make them last longer, so giving them a spin in the washer is a win-win.

You should be washing your pillow at least every six months or so. Here are some instructions on washing your pillow.