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Preserve Your Skin by Changing Your Bed Sheets

The Shocking Truth About Dirty Bed Sheets


Washing dirty bed sheets is often one of those chores that slips to the bottom of the priority list. Amongst all the other chores you have to do every week, like taking the trash out, washing dishes, dusting, it just doesn’t seem quite as important. By the end of a long hard day, the last thing you want to do is wrestle with your bed when changing sheets. 


Bedsheets rarely appear to be dirty to the naked eye, but you’re likely to be horrified by what’s happening beneath the surface. Dirty bed sheets can have a number of negative effects on our health, from causing breakouts to triggering allergies. 


As you learn more in this article, the hassle of washing your sheets might suddenly seem more worth it.

What Is Under Your Covers?

Now for the unpleasant part. Did you know, we shed roughly 500 million skin cells every day? Most of which gets rubbed off in our bed sheets when we’re sleeping. Tiny microscopic critters called dust mites love to feed on these dead skin cells. The more skin cells that accumulate, the more food for dust mites, which can then multiply. Before you know it, there is a huge colony in your bed that you may not even know is there. It is estimated there could be anywhere between 100,000 to 10 million dust mites taking up residence in your dirty bed sheets.


Do you have a furry friend who shares your bed? You may enjoy having your pet in bed with you, but unfortunately they leave animal hair and dander in your sheets; only adding food for dust mites.


As we sleep, our bodies also leave a lovely concoction of fluids and particles behind, which get absorbed by our sheets. You’ll likely find between the fibres of your sheets: sweat, saliva, body oils, genital fluids, faecal matter and urine, especially if you sleep naked. Unless you shower before bed, you also transfer all the dirt and germs from your body onto your sheets. Other particles like pollen and makeup, if you leave it on overnight, will also collect in your bedding. 


Without changing sheets regularly, all of this grime accumulates and provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to grow. Tests have revealed that a pillowcase that hasn’t been washed for a week harbours 17,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Gross right? 


What Happens When You Don't Change Your Dirty Bed Sheets?


Now you know what’s lurking beneath your sheets, it’s time to look at how this might affect your health.

1. Breakouts and acne

When you lay your head down at night on dirty bed sheets, you are pressing your face into filth and bacteria on your pillowcase. This can clog pores and lead to breakouts, which can make acne symptoms worse.

2. Asthma

Asthma is a common lung condition which causes airways to narrow, resulting in wheezing and difficulty breathing. When sweat is absorbed by our bed sheets they become damp, providing an ideal place for mould and funguses to grow. This is especially harmful for people with asthma, as these are common allergens that trigger symptoms. People with dust mite allergies often also experience worse asthma symptoms from dirty bed sheets.

3. Eczema and allergies

Can dirty bed sheets cause itching? Yes, they definitely can.
Itchy sheets is a common complaint from people with eczema, a condition that causes skin to become dry, scaly and itchy. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, where skin irritation is triggered when skin comes into contact with an allergen. 


Symptoms of atopic dermatitis can often be worse at night if bedding isn’t clean, as dirty bed sheets harbour allergens such as pollen, pet hair, and one of the most common triggers, dust mites. As dust mites munch their way through your dead skin cells, they leave behind faecal matter which contains enzymes that are responsible for triggering allergies. Dust mites thrive in warm humid environments, so if you’re a night sweater and don’t wash your sheets often, chances are you are helping these pesky mites survive.


If you feel like you're allergic to bed sheets, it is more than likely you are having an allergic reaction to dust mites or mould. Inhaling dust mite or mould allergens can lead to nasal inflammation, sneezing, a stuffy nose and asthma symptoms.


4.  Bacterial and fungal Infections

Mould, fungi and bacteria are not only bad for people with allergies or skin problems, but can also lead to a number of bacterial or fungal infections. A common fungus found in bedding is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause infections in the lungs and other organs.


A type of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus is commonly found in dirty bed sheets and is known to cause skin infections and other health problems, such as pneumonia. 

How Often Should You Change Your Sheets?

According to experts, bed sheets should be washed every week to prevent the accumulation of unwanted grime. This is especially important if you: 


  • Have dust or pollen allergies
  • Sweat a lot
  • Share your bed with a pet
  • Eat in bed
  • Sleep naked
  • Don’t shower before bed


If none of these applies to you, you can probably get away with washing every other week, but certainly no longer.


It is advised that bed sheets should be washed at a very high temperature in order to efficiently kill dust mites and other pathogens. Whilst ironing your sheets might seem like a step too far, by doing this you are further helping sanitise them. You’ll thank yourself when you slide into bed and feel your crisp-clean sheets against your skin.


How to Keep Your Bed as Clean as Possible

Bed linen that is made out of particularly absorbent material, such as cotton, is especially bad for harbouring all the unpleasantries mentioned earlier. Switching up your bed sheets and opting for silk sheets, a much less absorbent material, can help prevent the accumulation of debris, bacteria, oils and fluids. Silk fibres are so tightly woven together, they act as a natural hypoallergenic and can help keep dust mites from establishing themselves. However, we understand silk might not be everyone's cup of tea, which is why we offer great vegan-friendly silk alternatives.



Eucalyptus Silk Sheet Set 

Made with 100% eucalyptus harvested from regenerative trees in Austria, these bed sheets naturally wick away sweat, help regulate body temperature, and are hypoallergenic. As such, they help prevent the growth of fungus and make it harder for dust mites to colonise.



Clean Silver Bedding

These bed sheets are made from Supima cotton blended with antimicrobial silver, which fights bacteria on the fabric surface. They also stay fresh for longer, and that is perfect for those of you who find it hard to stick to washing your sheets every week.


Other ways to help your bed stay clean include:


  • Showering before you get into bed.
  • Always remove makeup at night.
  • Don’t apply creams right before you go to bed.
  • Avoid eating or drinking in bed - this is asking for spillages. 
  • Don’t share with your pet (sorry).


By going that extra mile and factoring weekly washing of your bed sheets into your routine, your health will benefit. Especially for those of you with allergies, eczema, or asthma. When washing your sheets, ensure you wash them as hot as possible to kill off dust mites and harmful microbes. There are also a number of things you can do to help keep your sheets as clean as possible, such as switching to one of our silk alternative sheets and practising better bed hygiene.