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How and how often to wash your bed sheets, duvet & pillows

Do you know how often you should be washing your duvet, pillows, and bed sheets? If they aren't washed regularly enough, dust can settle into the nooks and crannies, and your bedding might become irreversibly stained or even start to smell. In fact, in just eight years your sheets could become coated with up to 5kg of dead skin cells if they aren't changed enough, according to the Express. Not only should the thought of this be enough to give you nightmares, but it can also seriously aggravate certain conditions, such as asthma and allergies.

There's so much conflicting information out there, which means it isn't always easy to work out how often you should be changing your bed sheets. To help you out, we've put together this guide that covers:

How often should you change your sheets?

It doesn't take bed sheets long to get filthy: they collect dead skin cells, sweat, body oils and more. So, it's important that you change them on a regular basis. Every week or so should do it. It's also a good idea to pull your duvet back each morning, so moisture can escape, as this will help to keep your bedding fresher for longer.

If anyone in your household is poorly, it's a good idea to change your sheets a lot more often — perhaps even once a day. At the very least, you should change everyone's pillowcases daily, because this will help to limit your exposure to whatever bacteria is causing the illness.

While it’s easy to forget, it’s important that you wash your duvet and pillows on a regular basis, too. Although, these don't need to be cleaned quite as often: every six months should be enough. We would also recommend replacing your pillows every two to three years, and your duvet every five, to keep them fresh.

If washing your sheets every week sounds like too much of a chore, see if our laundry collection and delivery service can help. Our professional service is also ideal if your duvet won't fit inside your washing machine, or you have any dry-clean-only items.

Alternatively, if you would like to wash your own sheets, duvet and pillows, here's how you can get the best possible results. Just remember that this is only a guide: always read your bedding’s care labels and check them against our laundry symbol guide to avoid causing any damage.

How to wash a duvet

You should always check the label on your duvet before washing it, as some duvets that are filled with feathers or down will need to be dry-cleaned. You will also need to make sure that the duvet you're looking to wash will fit into your home washing machine.

We recommend washing a duvet in warm (but not hot) water — 30°C should do — and on a gentle setting. When you're choosing your detergent, it's best to go for something mild, unless your quilt is stained. If you are looking to get rid of any stubborn marks, you should be able to use your usual laundry stain remover. But, again, be sure to check your duvet's care label to ensure this won't cause any damage.

Because duvets are big and fluffy, they can retain a lot of soapy water if they're given the chance. To prevent this from happening, it's best to put them through two rinse cycles, rather than just the one. An extra spin cycle will also help to speed up the drying process.

The easiest way to remove all of the moisture from your duvet is with the help of a tumble dryer. Then, air it out before putting it back on your bed.

How to wash pillows

Most cotton, feather, and synthetic pillows can be put in the washing machine, but you should always check the care label before doing this for the first time. It’s also vital you make sure your pillows aren’t damaged as, if they aren’t in good condition, there’s a risk that some of the filling could escape while they’re being washed.

If you’ve decided that your pillows are safe to throw in the washing machine, put them in some cases first: this will help to prevent them from snagging on the inside of the drum. Then, wash them on a gentle cycle using mild detergent.

When the cycle's finished, you need to dry your pillows out as quickly as you can to prevent mould and mildew. Check their care labels and, if they can be tumble dried, put them in your dryer on a low heat. Otherwise, leave them to air-dry in a warm room or outside if it's sunny.

How to wash your bed sheets

You should wash your bed sheets approximately once a week, as this will help to prevent the build-up of dirt and dust. How you should wash your duvet cover and pillowcases depends on which material they're made from. So, let's look at the different requirements of the most common types.

How to wash cotton bed sheets

Cotton bed sheets should be washed at 40°C unless the care label says otherwise. You may wish to try a hotter setting, in combination with a suitable stain-removal product, if there are any stains. If your duvet cover or pillowcases are patterned or coloured, turn these inside-out before putting them in the washer to help prevent fading.

Ideally, you should line-dry your cotton sheets to keep them as fresh as possible, but you can use a tumble dryer on a medium heat if this is easier. And, if you want to get that crisp hotel look, ironing them when they're still slightly damp is the easiest way to achieve this.

How to wash silk bed sheets

To limit the risk of your silk sheets getting damaged in the washing machine, it's best to wash them on their own. If you're particularly worried about them snagging on the inside of the drum, you can place them in a mesh laundry bag first.

When washing silk sheets, you should always keep the temperature low — 30°C will do nicely — and use a mild detergent. Then, when it comes to drying them, keep in mind that direct sunlight could bleach them. If it's quite sunny outside, it's best to hang them up to dry indoors.

You can also tumble dry your silk sheets: just make sure you use the lowest temperature setting or, if possible, set your dryer to 'air'. Take your sheets out before they're completely dry and hang them out to help prevent creasing.

How to keep white bed sheets white

White sheets can take on a grey or yellow tinge if they aren’t looked after properly, so it’s well worth knowing how to keep them as bright as possible. Here, we’ll discuss how you should be treating your bed sheets to keep them white, and what you can do to revive them if they do start to look dull.

If anything ever gets spilled on your white bed sheets, you need to deal with this straight away, or you might end up with a stain that’s impossible to get out. Most of the time, you’ll be able to fix the problem quickly and effectively using a suitable stain remover. Or, if you’ve spilled something and it’s covering a large area of your sheets, strip your bed, hold the affected area under cold running water to flush as much of it out as possible, and throw your sheets in the washing machine.

When it comes to washing your bed sheets in a way that will keep them whiter than white, it’s vital that you stick to a routine of cleaning them once a week, as this will prevent the build-up of stains. It's also a good idea to use a special whitening detergent, but avoid bleach, as this can cause the likes of sweat stains to take on a yellow tinge.

Finally, always try to put your white bed sheets through an extra rinse cycle. Leftover residue from your laundry detergent can start to make your sheets look dull and rinsing them thoroughly can help to prevent that.

You now know exactly how to wash your bed sheets, duvet and pillows, as well as how often this needs to be done. Of course, we all have incredibly busy lives, which means fitting extra loads of laundry into our schedules isn't always the easiest. Plus, our home washing machines aren't always up to the task. If you want to keep your bed free of dirt and dust but aren't sure that you can keep on top of it, take advantage of our laundry collection and ironing services. You can also check out our dry cleaner prices and FAQs for more information.

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