Washing your bed sheets is one of those chores you know you have to do, but will put off until later. Next thing you know, “later” becomes a few weeks and your bedsheets still haven’t been cleaned.

A survey of 1,000 Americans by Mattress Advisor found that the average person waits about 24 days before changing or cleaning their sheets and pillowcases. The average maximum people would wait to wash their sheets is 35 days before it’s considered “gross.”

While it’s normal to hold off a bit on washing your sheets, Dr. Zain Husain, board-certified dermatologist, advises that you may want to consider changing that habit.

What can happen if you don’t wash your bed sheets?
For one, your skin might suffer. According to Dr. Husain, holding off on washing your sheets can put you at a greater risk for getting irritations, rashes, and infections including folliculitis and acne. “Sweat and oil can accumulate on your sheets, which can then trigger your skin and cause breakouts,” he says.

Tiny particles like pollen, dust mites, dead skin cells, and even detergent molecules can also collect in your bedsheets and pose as allergens, which can increase your skin’s sensitivity. This can result in different types of rashes like contact dermatitis, pruritus, and urticaria.

Beyond that, moisture from your sheets also provides a great environment for pathogens to flourish and grow. Bacteria, viruses, and fungus may be all over your sheets and can lead to infections.

How often should you be washing your sheets?
According to Dr. Husain, you should aim for at least once a week. Every two weeks is acceptable, but you don’t want to go any longer than that. In fact, you should just include washing your sheets as part of your hygiene routine. You want to use hot water and a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic detergent in order to help prevent irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin. Also, don’t forget your pillowcases. It’s just as important, if not more, to get those washed at least once a week.

Your bed is supposed to provide you with comfort and rest, not sickness. So as time-consuming as it can be to strip the bed, put it in the laundry, and then put it all back, it’s worth it. Besides, there’s nothing better than going to sleep on freshly washed sheets.

xx, The FabFitFun Team