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How Often Should I Wash My Sheets and Pillowcases?

You might not be cleaning your bed linens often enough.

Bed linens in the dryer
Most Americans don't wash their sheets often enough, according to a 2022 survey.
Cris Cantón/Getty Images

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

The average American waits more than three weeks (24 days) to change their sheets, according to a 2022 survey from Mattress Advisor, which found most people believe unchanged bedding isn't "gross" until after 35 days. 

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Considering how quickly sheets and pillowcases can get covered with dust mites, sweat and dead skin (we shed about an ounce of skin every three days), that's a long time to go between washings. 

Below, find out how often you should clean your sheets, pillowcases and other bedding -- and when it's time to toss your pillows in the washing machine, too.

For more home tips, learn about the household items most people never clean (but should) and how to clean your kitchen in less than 15 minutes.

How often should you wash your sheets?

Experts vary somewhat on how often to clean your linens. If you sleep at home every night, the Sleep Foundation says to wash them every week.

On the other hand, the Good Housekeeping Institute says every two weeks is fine. 

In either case, If you have pets or allergies -- or just sweat a lot -- more frequently is better.

And if you have COVID or another infectious illness, all your bedding needs to be changed as soon as you feel better to prevent recontamination. The water should be between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 65.5 Celsius) to kill all the germs.

Select the "sanitize" option on your washer -- if it doesn't have one, use the highest heat setting on your dryer.

What about other bedding?

The chart below offers general guidelines on washing your bedding, but individual items may have specific instructions, so always check the tag first.

Duvet covers should be changed every other week. If you use a top sheet, that can be extended to once a month.

Read On:
 How to Wash Your Pillows

And it's not just your linens that need cleaning: Sweat, dust and skin cells still make it onto pillows even with a pillowcase on,  so you should be washing your pillows every six months, at least. (Plus, washing can fluff them up and make them last longer.)

PillowcasesOnce a week
Duvet coversEvery 2-4 weeks
Blankets and comfortersEvery 2-3 months
Pillows (washable)Every 4-6 months
Duvet insertsEvery 4-6 months


Read On:
 How to Machine Wash Your Sheets the Right Way