The grubby truth about how often we wash the sheets: One in ten don't change their bed linen more than once a month
- Just over one third said they changed sheets once a week
- Half said dirty bedding became unhygienic after two to three weeks
- Women felt it was disgusting to keep same sheets for five weeks
- Thirty-seven per cent of 18-24 year-olds changed sheets once a month
Snuggling into freshly laundered bed linen is one of life’s little pleasures.
But it seems only a fastidious few enjoy it as a weekly routine.
In a survey about household habits, 35 per cent of adults said they changed their bed linen once a fortnight.
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Only a third said they changed their sheets once a week while women said it was 'disgusting' not to wash bedding for longer than five weeks
Just over a third made sure to wash their sheets once a week.
And one in ten, identified in the poll as ‘au naturels’, confessed they didn’t bother to throw their linen in the washing machine more than once a month.
This is equivalent to some five million adults nationwide. Asked by pollsters YouGov when they considered unwashed sheets to become unhygienic, half of those polled said between two and three weeks.
As to when they became ‘disgusting’, women said five weeks on average, while men said six.
The older we get the more fussy we are about clean linen. Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 37 per cent said they were ‘au naturels’ and only 16 per cent were weekly washers.
But among the over-60s, 42 per cent laundered sheets every week and only 14 per cent left their bedding for more than three weeks without a wash.
Professor Sally Bloomfield, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said not washing sheets regularly increases the risk of spreading bacteria. ‘After washing your hands and your food, laundry hygiene is also important,’ she warned.
Alongside washing your hands and food, experts say laundry hygiene is equally important though there is no data to say exactly how often you should wash your sheets
‘There’s no specific data, but once a week is probably a good approach, especially if there are children or babies at home. There are people who don’t wash their sheets for months who will never get ill, but it’s like wearing a seatbelt – you reduce the risk.’
Also, the body sheds millions of skin cells every day, many of them in bed. Scientists say the skin cells and sweat on sheets attract dust mites which, though harmless, produce droppings that contain allergens that can trigger asthma, rhinitis and itching eyes.
The poll attracted heated debate when posted on the YouGov website. One comment read: ‘The thought of sleeping on sheets not washed for over two weeks makes my skin crawl...I am visualising mega big bed bugs.’
But another replied: ‘We all know you should change the bed sheets once a week but I just cannot be bothered. In the past I have gone six months without changing.’
Only 3 per cent of those surveyed by YouGov change their sheets more frequently than once a week. Some go even further. One commenter said: ‘Change the bedding every other day and the mother-in-law washes and irons them twice a week for us.’
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