How Often Do You Wash Your Sheets?

'Cause you're totally supposed to wash them once a week and yet somehow I have a feeling there are a lot of people who aren't doing that.
Publish date:
March 20, 2013
laundry, fun, sheets, Towels, the time i threw up on myself in college, semen, confession time

A long, long time ago, I had sex a few times with some random guy whose name I cannot recall for the life of me. What I do recall is that I was likely having sex with him to piss off an ex-boyfriend and that the first time we had sex, I was very hungover in the morning and wanted to remain sleeping in his bed while he went off to work, but he refused to leave me in his apartment alone, which truly baffled me.

I was, like, 23 if that helps explain anything.

One time -- possibly the last time -- we had sex, it was during the evening and things got really messy. Probably because we weren’t using a condom (I am literally NO ONE’s role model in the entire world) and because, well, I don’t know: sex is just messy. All those fluids and sweat and whatnot.

Anyway, I just remember leaving the room to go clean up and coming back and seeing that he’d balled up both top and bottom sheet and shoved them under my bed, where just a corner was sticking out beneath my dust ruffle. Yup, that’s right. I was 23, fucked guys I didn’t like without condoms, but still managed to have a dust ruffle on my bed.

I gave him a puzzled look and then quickly escorted him out the door before going back to my bedroom and pulling those sheets right off of the floor and re-making my bed with them. Yes, they were gross, but I was 23. They were the only set of sheets I had. And “Dawson’s Creek” was on soon. There was no time for laundry. I washed my sheets once a week, regardless of what happened in, on, or around them.

(Except that one time sophomore year when I literally threw up all over myself in my bed after doing shots of Jack all night and in the morning the cheese from the pizza I’d eaten for dinner had literally congealed on the sheets. I had to scrape the cheese off before I could put the sheets in the dorm washing machine. My roommate was ELATED. Sorry, Tara, wherever you are!)

But washing my sheets once a week, as ordered by law, or at least common dignity, is one thing I’ve always done. I was lucky enough to grow up with a housekeeper so I grew accustomed to always having a neatly made bed and fresh sheets. One might think that would have turned me into a lazy adult, but in fact, it’s the opposite. I now live in immaculate house and the only time my bed isn’t made is if I’m lying in it.

I’m not going to lie though. Changing one’s sheets is not a fun task. (Don’t even get me started on folding one’s sheets. I’m still waiting for the magical person who can show me how to properly fold a bottom sheet without losing my mind.) In fact, I hate changing my sheets so much that once upon a time, I decided that since I was single, instead of changing my sheets every week, I would just switch which side of the bed I slept on.

Sadly, I now sleep diagonally, effectively doing everything “The Secret” ever told me not to do by not leaving “space” for someone to enter my life, so whether I like it or not, the sheets have to come off every Tuesday.

According to Martha Stewart (and who the eff else would you ask about something like this?), “How often you wash your sheets is a personal preference.” Except then she says, “It’s a good idea to launder them weekly to remove dirt and dust.” (And semen.) In short: you can wash your sheets less than once a week, but Martha’s totally judging you.

Other fun bedding facts:

  • You should wash your mattress cover once a month.
  • Comforter covers/duvets need to be washed weekly unless you use a top sheet. In that case, they can be washed monthly. (I will never understand not using a top sheet.)
  • Pillows should be washed twice a year -- even with a cover.
  • Most mattresses no longer require flipping, but you should still rotate them end-to-end once or twice a year. Especially if the person on one side of the bed is heavier than the other.
  • When I was in graduate school, I would seriously iron my pillowcases with a lavender linen spray. I can’t even imagine having the time to do something like this now, but there is NO better feeling than ironed sheets. If you can, just do the pillowcases. You’ll love it.

Now that we’ve tackled bedding, I bet you’re wondering about your towels. I mean, WHAT ELSE would you be wondering about? The answer as to how often you’re supposed to wash these seems to be much more nebulous. But don’t worry: I toooootally have an opinion.

My best friend in graduate school washed her towel after each use. My mom says sometimes she’ll use the same towel for a week. Personally, I use my towel three-four times and then into the laundry hamper it goes.

Again, we turn to Martha, who suggests using a fresh towel every four days. (Note: Don’t throw your wet towel into the hamper unless you plan on doing laundry immediately. I mean, that sounds super obvious, but I’ve been sharing a house with boys for part of the winter and you’d be shocked as to what actually needs to be said aloud.)

The important thing is to make sure your towel is hanging somewhere it can dry between each use. I struggle with this (seriously) because in order for my towel to get the best chance to thoroughly dry, it needs to be hung while only folded in half. But I know deep down inside that the only way to actually hang a towel on a rod is in thirds lengthwise.

I can’t even tell you how much time I’ve wasted thinking about this. My solution? I suffer through it when I’m home alone, but if I have guests coming over, I make sure all of the towels are hung folded in thirds. As always, I have far bigger issues than this, so if you can, just let it go.

Mostly, all of this towel talk reminds me of a time a few years ago when I’d just moved back to San Francisco. My mother was cleaning out her linen closet and offering me the towels she no longer wanted. I was placing them in a nice pile and thanking her when she pulled out a stack of washcloths.

“Do you want these?” she asked.

“Eh. No. That’s okay. I don’t really use washcloths,” I told her.

And then she looked at me very seriously and said, “You know, Daisy. You might have sex again one day. And when you do, you’ll wish you had some washcloths.”

That’s right. My mother offered me her USED sex washcloths.

Even worse?

I took them.

As soon as you stop vomiting, come clean in the comments. How often do you change your sheets and towels? And am I the most disgusting, yet somehow still totally neurotic, person you’ve ever met?

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