People spend an average of 49-60 hours a week in their beds, which inevitably gets bed sheets dirty. However, you may feel that your bed sheets are clean enough or only wash them once a month when they smell. This may seem harmless, but it can have health implications.
Unwashed bed sheets will start to smell and cause skin conditions, like acne, rashes, eczema, and infected open wounds. That’s because unwashed bed sheets will contain dirt, body oils, sweat, dead skin cells, skin care products, and dust mites.
The implications of not washing your bed sheets for 1 year will affect you, even if you have good personal hygiene. You should wash your sheets every 7-10 days, or more often if you have an active lifestyle/job.
Is it Bad To Not Wash Your Bed Sheets?
Failing to wash your bed sheets for a couple of weeks is unlikely to be an issue, but leaving the same dirty sheets on your bed for months is a different matter.
Unclean bed sheets can lead to skin conditions, infections, poor hygiene, and even infestations. Also, when you don’t wash your bedsheets, many substances build up in their fibers.
These include the following:
- Body oils
- Dead skin cells
- Skincare products
- Dust mites
According to Sleep Health, the average person with a healthy sleep schedule spends 49-60 or more hours in bed every week.
We shed thousands of skin cells every day, not to mention the oils, sweat, and dirt our bodies can bring to bed. So, it’s easy to see how unwashed sheets can become unhygienic quickly.
Will Unwashed Bed Sheets Hurt My Skin?
When you sleep in a dirty bed night after night, you run the risk of developing skin issues, including acne.
No matter how well you clean your skin and hair, you’ll not stay clean if you’re getting into a dirty bed. Over time, this will impact your physical health, and it can even escalate to rashes and eczema.
Even small cuts and gashes can become infected. According to PLOS Medicine, sanitation is of fundamental importance for maintaining good health.
How Long Can You Go Without Washing Bed Sheets?
According to The Neurodiagnostic Journal, getting good quality sleep is fundamental to maintaining good health. But what if you don’t wash your bed sheets for years?
If you’re a clean person who showers daily and has a sedentary or indoor lifestyle, your bed sheets will stay clean for longer. This is in contrast to someone who works outdoors and showers less often. Also, if you have pets and let them sleep in your bed, you will have to clean your sheets more often.
Here are some rules to follow:
- You should go no more than 7-10 days without washing your bed sheets.
- If you don’t sleep in your own bed each night, you might be able to wash once every 2 weeks without them being overly soiled.
- If you have pets, you should wait no longer than 1 week, but washing your sheets every 4 days would be better, especially if they go outside often.
Aside from bedding, you should wash the following:
- Wash your pillow cases at least once a week
- Clean your duvet covers a minimum of once every 2-4 weeks.
- To ensure optimal cleanliness (or you have sensitive skin), you should be cleaning your comforters and blankets once every 2-3 months.
- While many mattresses and pillows aren’t washable, steam cleaning them once every 4-6 months is a good way to maintain hygiene and get rid of dust mites.
According to Allergy, dust mites are a serious risk factor for asthmatics.
What Happens if You Haven’t Washed Bed Sheets in a Year?
Perhaps you haven’t washed your bed sheets for a full year.
Well, your bed will smell terrible, and that would impact the way you smell, even if you shower regularly. Also, the smell would impact the rest of your house, making it unpleasant for you and anyone who visits.
This smell would be due to your natural body oils and sweat, which would seep into your sheets when you sleep, especially if the room is warm.
Any skincare, haircare, and makeup products will transfer to your sheets and pillowcases. In addition, the average human loses nearly five thousand skin cells in an average day, and up to 1/3rd of those will end up on your bed sheets.
As well as the buildup of sweat, oils, skin, and body products in your bed, your sheets will begin to take on other bodily fluids. Saliva, nasal mucus, arousal fluids, and even fecal residue can be found in sheets that have been unwashed for a significant amount of time.
The presence of any allergens presents a risk to people with respiratory problems. Likewise, any significant bacterial presence can cause infections in open wounds, even if they’re small.
Can You Get Bed Bugs From Not Washing Your Sheets?
Simply failing to wash your sheets won’t cause your home to become infested with bed bugs. Whether your home is clean or dirty is of little interest to these parasitic insects.
Bed bugs are drawn to the blood of a human host, not dirt, so they’ll thrive wherever they have easy access to a supply of blood.
Bed bugs are most likely to be brought to your home by:
Cleaning infested items may help get rid of bed bugs, especially if they’re cleaned at high temperatures. According to Virginia Tech, bed bugs cannot usually survive in temperatures exceeding 114-155 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can You Get Lice From Not Washing Your Sheets?
There is no evidence to suggest that having dirty sheets can cause you to have body lice or head lice. However, dirty sheets will allow body lice to live in your home.
Head lice can only live for prolonged periods on the human body. If hair-holding lice or lice eggs fall onto your bed sheets, they’ll get into your hair. However, they cannot live on your sheets indefinitely.
As with bed bugs, body lice must be brought into the home. Once they’ve found their way into your clothes or sheets, body lice will be able to live and multiply in number.
The best way to safely remove body lice from sheets, cloths, or soft furnishings is to clean them thoroughly, preferably at temperatures above 114 degrees Fahrenheit.