Why your dirty sheets could be hazardous to your health

November 27, 2019

Insanitation concept. Woman holds lens, shows there are bugs in bedclothes, detects bad insects demonstrates dirty conditions. Dirtiness, unhygienic conditions and uncleanness

How often should sheets and bedding be washed? The appropriate answer to this question can vary, but most experts agree that to keep dust mites and other allergens at bay, it should be done once a week.

We spend a third of our lives on our bedding, leaving behind an average of 56 hours a week of sweat, body oil, human hair, bodily secretions, and dead skin cells. This provides a perfect place for critters such as mites to feed and breed. Your skin cells can feed 1 million dust mites.

The average person sheds a gram and a half of these keratinocytes daily, says Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Alok Vij.

Here are three ways a dirty bed could harm your health:

  • Staphylococcus aureus is commonly found on human skin, but if this bacteria enters the body may develop illnesses such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and bacteria in the bloodstream.
  • Yeast infections on the skin are very common when sheets are not washed regularly. The risk is higher if there is high humidity in the room.
  • Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on dead skin. They don’t carry diseases, but can cause allergy problems, and lead to conditions such as asthma and rhinitis. 

“Bacteria love the skin”, Dr. Vij says. “There are more bacterial organisms in our bodies than our own cells. When you let the dead skin cells rest in your sheets, those bacteria can thrive. If they get back on to your skin it can lead to folliculitis.”

Health problems associated with dust mites are real. Some health hygienists refer to the condition where the bed becomes a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria as Sick Bed Syndrome. You can prevent this by:

  • Reducing humidity and dust levels in the bedroom.
  • Vacuuming frequently
  • Use hot water when laundering sheets. Sheets, pillowcases, and blankets should be removed from the bed and laundered in hot water.
  • Zippered mattress covers help keep dust mites, molds, and pollen out. Zippered pillow covers are also available to protect pillows.

For more information on housekeeping and linen management, or for help in finding the best solution in laundry and linen cleaning, contact Vanguard Resources.