Last Updated on September 30, 2023 by Louise Carter
Damp sheets can feel comforting if you’re hot. Also, applying damp sheets to a mattress and allowing them to dry can remove wrinkles in the fabric. Unfortunately, it’s bad to sleep on damp sheets.
Placing damp sheets on a bed can attract mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungi. This can leave your sheets stained and smelly, aggravate health concerns, and attract spiders, mites, and other bugs.
Sleeping on damp sheets and pillows will also damage your skin.
Dampness creates friction against the skin, so you may get sleep lines and wrinkles if you toss and turn in your sleep. If you remain comparatively still, you risk developing bed sores and ulcers.
If your bedsheets feel damp after a night of sleep, you could be sweating excessively, the room may be too humid, or you could have spilled liquid on the bed without realizing it.
Most homes benefit from keeping at least one change of bedsheets, as they can take time to fully dry.
Bamboo and silk sheets dry faster than cotton sheets but are frequently too delicate for a dryer, so you’ll be at the mercy of air drying, which can take up to 24 hours.
Is it Okay to Sleep with Damp Sheets?
While dampness in the fabric is often considered a warning that clothing or sheets haven’t been given enough time to dry after washing, some people prefer damp bedsheets.
Sleeping on damp sheets can cool down the skin, which will be welcome if you get too hot in bed. The damp sheets will also draw heat from the body overnight, helping prevent overheating.
Placing damp sheets on a bed is also considered a ‘life hack’ in some online circles.
Completely dry sheets will become wrinkled and require ironing if this bothers you. Damp sheets, it’s claimed, will dry perfectly flat and negate this requirement.
Despite these apparent perks of sleeping with damp sheets, there are numerous risks to placing anything that’s not fully dry on your bed. Avoid sleeping on damp sheets whenever possible.
What Happens if You Put Damp Sheets on a Bed?
Placing sheets on your bed before they’ve had the opportunity to dry causes various problems:
Mold And Mildew
The main risk of sleeping on damp bedsheets is attracting mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungi. This can have health consequences, like respiratory infections and the aggravation of allergies or asthma.
Mold on bedsheets can lead to a foul smell and discoloration, irritating the skin.
Damp bedsheets are also less durable because moisture will weaken the fabric. You may also find your bedsheets tear more easily if you put them on a damp mattress.
Insects, Spiders, And Mites
Many unwelcome visitors to a bedroom are attracted to dampness. If you sleep on damp bedsheets, don’t be surprised if you attract spiders, mites, moths, and other bugs.
You can remove them by washing your sheets, but the cycle will begin again if you replace them before they fully dry. Always maintain dry sheets to minimize the risk of insects in the bedroom.
If bedsheets and pillows are damp, it creates friction against the skin. This will cause the skin to adhere to the fabric and be pulled out of position, leading to wrinkles.
According to Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, sleeping on damp sheets can lead to ulcers and bed sores. The elderly and people living with diabetes face the highest risk.
Cotton bedsheets are the likeliest fabric to extract moisture from the skin and lead to damage.
Dampness on the sheets will eventually seep into the mattress, potentially creating a permanent feeling of wetness to the touch and an unappealing smell.
Using a waterproof mattress protector reduces the risk of this outcome, but they can make you hot.
Removing a mattress from the bed and standing it against the wall for a few hours, allowing it to dry from all angles, will potentially improve any issues with dampness.
Why Do My Bed Sheets Feel Damp?
A double bedsheet may need extra time on a washing line or dryer to remove all moisture.
Line-dried bedsheets are likelier to avoid dampness. Allowing air to circulate the sheets, especially on a windy day, will allow the fabric to dry naturally.
Check the sheets carefully before applying them to a bed if you use a dryer.
Corners or patches can remain damp if the bedsheets get tangled or bunched in a dryer. Small areas can be manually dried using a hairdryer before returning the sheets to a bed.
Sometimes, bedsheets that haven’t been through the laundry process can feel damp. If this is the case, consider these possible causes of damp bedsheets:
If you only find a small patch of dampness on your bedsheets, you may have accidentally knocked over a glass of water by the bed without realizing it.
Sleeping with a dog on your bed can also lead to damp patches on bedding. Your cat or dog may have taken an impromptu bath and licked the sheets.
If neither of these circumstances apply, ensure you don’t have a ceiling leak.
Condensation And Humidity
If your bedroom is too humid, your sheets will regularly feel damp.
If your bedroom walls feel excessively cool to the touch, condensation builds on your bedroom windows, or you notice a musty smell, your room is too humid.
The most effective way to resolve this is with a dehumidifier for your bedroom. You can run this daily to extract moisture from the air or leave it running overnight.
If you have air conditioning in your home, change the filters regularly. An AC unit will be forced to work hard in a humid atmosphere, and blockages can lead to greater moisture build-up.
Consider adding decorative indoor plants if you prefer not to use appliances to manage humidity in a bedroom. Peace lilies, ferns, spider plants, and orchids can reduce humidity.
Perspiration while sleeping can lead to damp bedsheets. This is often referred to as ‘night sweats.’ There are many explanations for excessive sweating during sleep, which include:
- Excessive bedwear. Consider sleeping without clothes to maintain a lower body temperature overnight, or exchange your blankets for cooler alternatives.
- Hormonal changes. Climacteric explains how menopausal women experience hot flushes at night.
- Drinking alcohol before bed. Alcohol can increase heart rate and body temperature.
- Unresolved stress. Try to clear your mind of anxious thoughts before sleep.
- Side effects of medications. Some prescription drugs increase body temperature and sweat.
If you sweat heavily overnight, some simple adjustments can address the problem.
Are My Bedsheets Damp or Just Cold?
When bedsheets have been washed and dried outside, or even when the ambient temperature is low, it can be hard to tell if the sheets are damp or cold.
When we leave bedsheets to dry, water molecules on the fabric evaporate and form part of the atmosphere. This happens rapidly on a hot, sunny day, so you’ll barely notice. If the temperature is lower, it can be harder to tell the difference.
The human hand doesn’t have sense receptors that detect dampness, just temperature. This can create confusion, as the brain mistakes coolness to the touch with moisture, as it directly correlates with coldness and wetness.
If you’re certain your bedsheets should be dry but can’t be sure, hold the fabric to your neck. According to the Annals of Dermatology, the neck has the highest temperature in the body.
If the sheets are dry but cold, the heat from your neck will warm the fabric to the touch.
If the bedsheets are still damp, you’ll feel your body temperature drop slightly as a reaction, and the feeling of the sheets will remain unchanged.
How Long Does It Take for Damp Sheets to Dry?
Various factors influence how long your sheets take to dry, including the method you use and the material the bedsheets are made from.
Bamboo bed sheets are the best choice for anybody who wants a fast-drying option. This material sheds dampness twice as fast as cotton when air-dried.
Silk will also dry more quickly, but silk and bamboo sheets are frequently too delicate to place in a dryer.
If weather permits, hanging bedsheets on a line outside is a fast and cost-effective way to dry your sheets and the best way to avoid lingering dampness.
If you fold your bedsheet in half and form a diamond shape on your washing line, you’ll create a ‘sack.’ This is the fastest way to dry bedsheets outside.
On a sunny day with a fair wind, your sheets could dry in less than an hour.
If the weather dictates that drying sheets outside is impossible, air-dry your sheets inside the home.
Hang them over a clothes horse and, if possible, point a tower fan at the sheets to keep air flowing. It could take as long as 24 hours to dry sheets this way.
Avoid draping your bedsheets over a radiator. While this dries the sheets faster, the concentrated heat can damage the fabric, and you’re likely to end with damp patches the radiator couldn’t reach.
An alternative is to use a dryer. Check the label of your bedsheets to ensure this is safe and determine what temperature you should use.
Most bedsheets will dry in 40 – 60 minutes in a dryer, but carefully check for stubborn damp patches before applying them to the bed.
Damp bedsheets may initially feel comforting on a hot day, and the idea of not ironing a cumbersome bedsheet can be appealing, but this isn’t a sustainable way to sleep.