How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets, Towels & Other Household Linen?

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets, Towels & Other Household Linen?

Washing sheets is one of those chores many of us put off for as long as possible. However, leaving household linens unwashed for too long can be extremely unsanitary, and even lead to sickness.

You might know how often you should wash your clothes, but now it's time to find out how often you should wash your sheets, kitchen towels, shower curtains and more.

Find out more and prevent a build-up of unwanted germs in your home...

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1.How often to wash bed sheets

Bed with floral throw cushions
How often do you wash your bed sheets?

Sweating is the last thing you imagine yourself doing when you're in a deep, peaceful sleep, but we sweat a surprising amount every night.

In fact, our poor sheets have to put up with around 25ml of sweat per hour. When you consider we're supposed to get eight hours of kip a night, this soon starts to add up. Add to that our natural shedding of skin, and the warm environment which is ideal for dust mites, and it's easy to see how our beds can soon become a pretty filthy place to be.

You wouldn't wear your gym kit for weeks on end, so why would you want to sleep in the same sheets? You should wash your bed sheets once a week at 60˚C to kill mites and other bacteria.

TOP TIP: Don't make the bed! Pull back your bed linen every morning and open the windows to air our your bed. This will reduce humidity, helping to kill off dust mites.

2. How to clean a shower curtain

Curtains are something we consider more decorative than anything else. Shower curtains definitely don't fall into this category.

As the whole purpose of a shower curtain is to keep water from getting out, they spend most of their time wet. The humid environment of your bathroom also lessens their chances of drying out, which make mould and mildew buildup likely - yuck.

Such conditions provide ideal breeding conditions for germs, which is why it's so important to wash your shower curtain once a month.

Read the care label carefully to determine how to clean your shower curtain correctly. Use the hottest temperature possible to kill germs and keep your bathroom bacteria-free.

You're not going to believe this next one...

3. How often should you wash towels (kitchen)

kitchen towels
Kitchen towels should be cleaned more often than you think!

When was the last time you washed your kitchen towels? Although most people consider once a week to be enough, in reality, tea towels should be washed every day at 60˚C.

Raw meat and dirty vegetables carry a surprising amount of bacteria, which is easily transferred onto kitchen towels when knives, pots and pans are dried. Damp towels are often left to fester, which encourages germs to multiply rapidly. These germs can then be transferred onto hands, which can subsequently make us sick.

TOP TIP: Have a separate kitchen towel for drying hands. This will reduce the chance of germ transfer and prevent sickness in the home.

4. How to wash a duvet

Now we've got the bed sheets covered, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty - your duvet.  There may be a duvet cover protecting it, but it's no match for sweat and dust mites.

Just like bed sheets, duvets should be washed regularly to keep your bed fresh. Thankfully it's not quite as regularly - duvets should be washed once every three months.

Learn how to wash a duvet correctly on the Persil site.

5. When to wash your bath & pedestal mats

bath mat
Keep your towels as clean as your bathroom.

First thing's first - take a look down at your bathroom floor. Depending on who you live with and how often they use the bathroom will determine its condition.

Since bath and pedestal mats are on the floor,  they rarely get a chance to dry out properly - cue germs and other bacteria. Pedestal mats suffer and even nastier fate, coming into contact with urine droplets and faeces particles more often than you'd care to imagine.

To combat all this, bath and, particularly, pedestal mats should be washed at least once a week, at a high temperature.

6. How often should you wash throws

 Throw blankets definitely don't have to put up with as much as our sheets and duvets. However, that's not to say they don't need some TLC occasionally too.

Even throws only used for decorative purposes can be covered in dust, skin particles and dust mites. Keep your throws and blankets clean enough to cuddle up with on cold nights by washing them all once a season.

The material of your throws and blankets will determine the best washing method. Be sure to check the care instructions before you begin.

7. How to clean pillows

Another common household object that often gets neglected is our pillows. Just like duvets, these sumptuous squares of softness are faced with a surprising amount of sweat every night. If you're wondering why you keep waking up with a cold, or a spotty face, this could be why.

Pillows should be washed once every three months or so to keep them clean. Washing fibre, down and feather pillows is usually as easy as throwing them in the washing machine, although be sure to check the care instructions before doing so. It's only really foam pillows that you may struggle to wash.

Follow Nature's Sleep's guide to find the best way to clean your foam pillows at home today.

8. How often should you wash your towels? (bathroom)

Store clean towels before use to keep them clean.
Store clean bath towels after washing them to keep them clean for as long as possible.

 Clean body, clean towels, right? It may seem logical, but towels are dirtier than you'd imagine, even after their first use. This isn't anything to do with your washing method, it's actually your body that's to blame!

Every time we dry ourselves, the towel acts as an exfoliator, meaning hundreds of tiny dead skin cells are transferred onto it - yuck. Damp towels also provide the perfect environment for germs, and the longer we leave them, the more likely they are to multiply.

The answer? In an ideal world, you should wash your towels after every three uses at 60°C to keep them as germ-free as possible. For hand towels, it's every two days.

TOP TIP: if your towels are starting to smell particularly musty, throw in half a cup of baking soda with your load to freshen them up.

 9. Washing dishcloths

This is a bit more of a personal one, as the type of dishcloth and preferred washing method varies from home to home. The Food Standards Agency recommends using disposable cloths wherever possible, and cleaning all others after every use.

Dishcloths are particularly important, as they are used on surfaces which may have bacteria from raw meat, poultry and eggs transferred onto them.

Extremely high wash temperatures, ideally of 90°C or above should be used to ensure dishcloths are completely disinfected.

TOP TIP: if you want to clean cloths by hand, we recommend first washing them in hot soapy water to remove excess grease and food, then soaking in a diluted bleach for an hour. This will also leave them looking spotless!

10. How to clean a washing machine

washing machine
Washing machines need a clean too!

Now you know how often to wash household sheets, towels and other household linen for a super clean home. That's great - providing you're washing it in a clean washing machine!

The washing machine, much like the dishwasher, is something we presume doesn't need to be cleaned at all. However, hard water, detergents and even water alone can build-up and lead to nasty odours and even mould.

Give your washing machine a good clean every six months or so to keep it in good working order. 

What are you guilty of not washing often enough? Let us know in the comments below!
Author

Stephanie C

Editor

Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author christine on January 5, 2018 at 8:45 am

    only cotton sheets can be washed at 60degrees. polycotton ones are washed at 40

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 10, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Hi Christine. Thanks for pointing this out. Luckily, even if you wash at 40, modern detergents are strong enough to kill off most germs.

    Reply
  2. Author Lucy on January 9, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    With the current wintery weather, it is hard enough getting one load of washing dry, the tumble dryer we have uses a lot of electric so we can't keep using that. Once a week for sheets when there is more than one or two people in the household isn't possible this time of year in England!

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 10, 2018 at 10:22 am

      Hi Lucy. If you're struggling to wash/dry your sheets as often as recommended, it isn't the end of the world in Winter. Luckily, the colder temperatures are not ideal for germs, which such reduce the chance of them spreading. I'd also recommend airing your sheets as often as possible, by pulling back the covers and leaving the windows open each morning. I hope this helps :)

    Reply
  3. Author Alison on June 5, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Most of these suggestions apply to people who don't work full time!!

    1. Author Joanne A on June 5, 2019 at 9:10 am

      Hi Alison! Yes, it can be very tricky to get the washing done when you work full-time. Perhaps we could make an adapted timetable for those that do.

    Reply
  4. Author Francis G Burchell on June 5, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Did you mean baking soda rather than baking powder? I would have thought baking powder would have left a gloopy residue, whereas baking soda would dissolve in water without a mess.

    1. Author Joanne A on June 5, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Francis! You're correct - I'll make sure that gets amended. Baking powder would work in a pinch, as it contains baking soda, but it's much more expensive.

    Reply
  5. Author C . Jones on June 5, 2019 at 9:39 am

    wonderful tips about washing Duvet's but how about washing Silk duvet's

    1. Author Joanne A on June 5, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      Hi there! If you check the label, there should be care instructions. I believe the best practice would be to spot clean any spills and stains, but then take it to be professionally cleaned.

    Reply
  6. Author heather on June 5, 2019 at 9:44 am

    My biggest regret is that washing machines no longer have a 50 degree wash. I sometimes think 60 may be a bit too high for some things, & 40 too low for others. At least when 50 was available, you had the option of in-between for certain items. Does anyone else feel the same?

    1. Author Joanne A on June 5, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      I know how you feel, Heather! 50 would be an ideal temperature.

    Reply
  7. Author Anne on June 5, 2019 at 10:01 am

    It's interesting to see you recommend washing most items at 60°. It's now being suggested we use 30° in the interest of saving the planet, but I find that doesn't get the clothes clean. I personally have used 40° for many years, for everything except towels, tea towels and dishclothes, which all get washed at 90°. I put my washing machine on in the evening, empty it and hang the clothes out in the morning before going to work. If it's wet, a clothes airer in the kitchen or living room helps dry the clothes, but doesn't do much for the resulting condensation,

    1. Author Joanne A on June 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Anne! Yes, unfortunately, a low temperature isn't always best for cleaning. I found the exact same problem when I tried a low-temperature wash.

    Reply
  8. Author Toni on June 5, 2019 at 11:07 am

    As an extra tip.... a dishwasher tablet with plastic removed works well in a washing machine on a hot cycle to clean it. I have to put the tablet in the main compartment as it stays put, when placed in powder drawer

    1. Author Joanne A on June 5, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      I've heard about this tip, but not tried it yet! Thanks for sharing, Toni.

    Reply
  9. Author Michelle on June 6, 2019 at 1:19 am

    Here’s a tip for drying towels or throws or even duvets and covers, I use my banister that goes along our upstairs landing. The towels we always air on the banister after using and they dry so quickly. Drying duvet covers can dry but we have to fold the cover so it doesn’t drag on the floor and then the other side hangs down freely so any air dries up through. It definitely helps if the weather has been bad and big items need to dry otherwise your dirty washing builds up and I don’t like having a basket of smelly washing filling up

    1. Author Joanne A on June 6, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Bannisters are great for hanging linens if you have one! Great tip, Michelle.

    Reply
  10. Author Janine on November 3, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I put my dishcloth into the microwave on high for 4 minutes; kills any the bacteria. Also soak sponges, scourers etc in hot water with bleach overnight.

    1. Author Joanne A on November 4, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Great idea - as long as the sponge doesn't have metal in it (like a scourer)!

    Reply

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