A laundry room in cartoon form.

How to Keep Your Sheets Fresh for Longer

share via email share facebook share twitter share pinterest

Washing bed sheets is a chore that few of us enjoy. It typically requires completing at least three separate loads of laundry, and losing the use of your bed in the meantime. These facts make it easy to put off washing your sheets for longer than you should. Instead, it needs to be a top priority since we spend a third of our lives sleeping, and many of us spend even more time than that in bed. Bedding collects many materials that need to be removed frequently, especially bodily fluids and skin cells. 

Keeping your sheets fresh therefore requires you to develop a routine and stick to it, although the frequency depends on various factors. Bedding material that you typically need to clean includes sheets, pillows and mattress pads, each of which requires separate cleaning procedures:


You should generally wash your sheets every one to two weeks, depending on your sleeping habits. Factors that increase your washing frequency primarily include heavy sweating and sleeping with a partner. You should also invest in multiple sets of bedding, including pillow covers, mattress pads and moisture-wicking sheets that keep you cool. This strategy allows you to rotate your bedding, which makes your sheets last longer and lets you use your bed while you’re washing the previous set of bedding.

Treat obvious stains on the bedding with a prewash stain remover. Use a liquid detergent designed specifically for laundry. Many of these products include a fabric softener, which can also give your sheets a light fragrance.

Choosing the right washing cycle is a frequently overlooked step in keeping sheets clean. Some of the latest washers have a cycle specifically designed for sheets. If your washer doesn't have such a cycle, select the normal cycle rather than the heavy-duty cycle. Sheets don’t need the additional agitation that the heavy-duty cycle provides, which can also increase wrinkles.


You should wash pillow covers at the same time as your sheets. Avoid going to bed with makeup on if possible, as the stains from these products can be particularly difficult to remove. Treat discolored pillow covers by adding ¼ cup of a mildly acidic or alkaline household substance to the wash such as baking soda, lemon juice or white vinegar.

Wash your pillows once or twice a year, since they will eventually absorb fluids even when protected by a cover. Use the instructions, if available. Otherwise, use the delicate cycle with warm water instead of hot water. Put them through an additional rinse cycle to ensure all the detergent is removed from the filler material. Don’t wash more than two pillows at a time to avoid unbalancing the washer with these bulky items. You can also wash pillows by hand or dry clean them, so long as a gentle detergent is used. 

Don’t wring out pillows if they’re filled with down, as this could damage the feathers. Hang them out to dry in the sun if possible, since this is a more gentle drying method than machine drying. It will also help prevent mildew, which is more likely with down pillows. Dry pillows filled with synthetic materials in the dryer on low heat. Add a couple of tennis balls to the dryer to help keep the pillows fluffy. 


Wash mattress pads and comforters about every three months. In the absence of specific washing instructions, the best cleaning method depends on whether these items contain down. 

Mattress pads and comforters that don’t contain down can typically be machine washed, similar to the procedure for washing sheets. The primary difference is you should use cool or warm water to avoid damaging the vinyl backing. Add a couple of tennis balls to keep the mattress pad fluffy, and dry it on a delicate cycle.


Airing your bedding is another way to keep your sheets fresh, especially if you live in a hot, humid climate without air conditioning. Lay the blanket on the floor, and fold the top sheet all the way down to the bottom of the bed when you wake up. Turn a portable fan on the exposed sheets to help them dry out faster, and make the bed just before you leave for work. This technique is easier if you don’t tuck the top sheet under the mattress at the foot of the bed.

Make your own fabric freshener if you don’t like the commercial sprays, which can be done by adding a few drops of an essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Lavender is a soothing scent that works well for this purpose. Spray the scented water over the bed instead of directly onto the sheets to avoid saturating them.

Bathe at night before you go to bed instead of after you wake up. This strategy can greatly prolong the freshness of your sheets since you will always be clean when you lie on them. Change the pillowcases every few days to prevent them from accumulating sweat.

Slipping into clean, fragrant sheets after a long day can greatly improve your quality of life. However, many of us dread the chore of washing the entire bedding on a regular basis. The key to overcoming this challenge is to set a schedule and stick to it, as consistency is essential for maintaining fresh sheets.

Cleaning sheets properly generally involves striking the right balance between killing bacteria and removing foreign material without damaging the fabric. Cleaning is also the most important step in keeping sheets smelling fresh. Fragrances should only be used to give the sheets a light pleasant smell, rather than to cover up a bad odor.


PeachSkinSheets are made from soft, moisture-wicking material that is available in a variety of colors. These sheets that keep you cool are also anti-microbial, so they protect you from bacteria and dust mites while you’re sleeping. 

Dry your sheets outside if possible to reduce wrinkles. Fold and store them if you’re not going to put them on the bed immediately. Fabric sprays can also help your sheets smell fresh if you apply it between washes. Try a relaxing scent like lavender to improve the quality of your sleep.