Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
I recently read a study about how some people in the UK only wash their sheets three times per year. That seems pretty gross, but I’m wondering … how often do I need to wash my sheets to maintain good hygiene? After all, I wouldn’t mind saving money on laundry (and less washing would probably help the environment too!).
Humans shed about a million cells per hour. That’s good news for dust mites, because our skin cells are food for them. Thus, the more skin cells in your bed, the more dust mites -- which can exacerbate both allergies and asthma.
On top of mites, there can be all sorts of other ingredients in bed with you: semen, vaginal matter, fecal matter, perspiration and athlete’s foot fungus. Given this, it’s just common sense that if you leave your sheets unwashed too long, you’ll be creating a setting for bacteria, fungus and viruses. Add the fact that some people also eat in bed, and the area between the sheets can become quite a party for bacteria. These microscopic creatures can cause skin irritations, intestinal problems, staph infections and even flared-up allergies and asthma.
So I recommend you wash your sheets once a week.
If you have white sheets, I recommend you wash them with bleach, which will kill the germs. If your sheets are not white, use a color-safe bleach or a detergent with a peroxide agent.
If you don’t have a washer at home and use the laundromat, run the washer for five minutes (with bleach) before adding clothes -- this will sanitize the washer. (Simply disinfecting with a sanitary wipe will not capture all potential pathogens).
While microorganisms should not be feared (many play a good role in maintaining our health), many of the ones in our households can harm us. By taking sensible -- not extreme -- steps, we can give our bodies a much greater level of protection from the harm such pathogens can do us.