Should you wash your bedsheets more often in the summer?

Cleaning and bedding experts tell Lisa Salmon exactly how often your sheets should be washed in the warmer months.

More heat equals more bacteria
Pink and blue bedding sheets on the line More heat equals more bacteria (Alamy Stock Photo)

It’s lovely to relax into cool, crisp and clean sheets in the summer, when you’ve been hot and sticky all day.

But those lovely clean sheets won’t stay that way for long, because the sweat and dirt on your body from long days outdoors will transfer onto them, and they’ll soon need washing again. The question is, how often?

“Standard mulberry silk, cotton and linen sheets will likely need to be washed more regularly in the summer, as our bodies are warmer and sweat more at night,” says Stephen Goknel, founder of the bamboo bedding company Luff Sleep.

“At this time of year, there are also more insects like moths, mosquitos, midges etc, so washing your bedding will keep you clearer of these, too. [Washing bedsheets] every one to two weeks, is what I’d recommend to maintain a healthy and clean sleep environment.”

(Alamy Stock Photo)

Goknel recommends putting sheets in a 30 degree wash cycle, as long as the machine isn’t overfilled, explaining: “This should be adequate to freshen and clean sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers properly, and save on energy bills and environmental impact all in one. Some bedding may indicate a warmer wash is needed, so if you’re unsure, it’s best to check the packaging or the brand’s website.”

Cleaning experts agree that sheets need washing more in the summer, and Laura Mountford, aka @Lauracleanaholic, says: “Washing your sheets once a week in summer is sufficient to keep them clean and fresh. If you can do it twice a week, then great, especially if it’s hot at night.”

She says the efficiency of modern detergents means there’s no longer a need to wash bedding at high temperatures, and points out that quality detergents will clean effectively even on cool washes as low as 20 degrees, which will save money and energy.

Mountford, author of Live, Laugh, Laundry (Ebury Press, £16.99), suggests using a laundry cleanser to kill bacteria and viruses, especially if you have a sickness bug or illness, and says: “To keep bedding smelling fresher for longer, keeping that just-washed feeling as if it’s just come out of the machine, use a capful of in-wash scent boosters when washing.”

And although it will increase your domestic workload, she points out that other items will also need washing more regularly in the summer.

“Bath, hand and tea towels should be washed more frequently (after every two to three uses) as the warm weather causes bacteria to grow from added sweat and grease,” she says. “Clothes should also be washed more frequently than they would in the winter, again due to sweat, but also pollen transfer. So, particularly for hay fever sufferers like me, washing clothes regularly will keep that pollen at bay.”

In addition, she says drying outdoors in the summer is great for saving energy, and explains that the sun’s rays are a natural way to remove bacteria and also boost the brightness of whites. However, she points out that hay fever sufferers should avoid drying outdoors, as laundry may collect pollen residue.

TV’s Queen of Clean Lynsey Crombie (@lynsey_queenofclean) suggests higher-temperature washes are necessary for bedding during heat waves, though. “During very hot periods, we should be washing our bedding more often at temperatures above 60 degrees, as well as keeping it well-aired before making,” she advises. “If you notice your bedding smells more, add a laundry booster or 20ml of white vinegar.

“We naturally sweat a lot more in higher temperatures, which results in our bodily fluids and oils seeping into our sheets, duvets, and pillows. Ensure you use good quality mattress and pillow protectors to prevent yellow staining.”

Crombie also points out that bedbugs, dust mites and moths thrive in warmer temperatures, and opt for dark places to live – such as in bedding and under beds. “Dust mites can cause allergies, bed bugs can bite, and moths can eat away at your bedding, so regularly washing – as well as vacuuming – your bedframe and mattress will help prevent this. If you own a steam cleaner, a blast of steam can really help, too.”

She suggests switching to a lower tog duvet, so you don’t sweat as much, and use breathable cotton bedding to help keep the bed cooler. “Aim to change your bedding at least once a week, and if you’re struggling for time, you can simplify this by doing the bottom sheet and top pillowcases, and allowing your bedding to air for a good hour before making – with the window open, which will break down any nasty odours trapped in your bed and will evaporate sweat.”

She points out that it’s also important to wash duvets and pillows over the summer, and adds: “If they don’t fit in the washing machine, on a sunny day, hang your duvet outside and let the sun disinfect and refresh it.  For pillows, lay them flat on a bench and turn every so often.”