We all know we’re meant to wash our sheets once a week, but if we’re honest, we’ve all let this stretch to closer to two coughsixcough when we’re feeling lazy.
But if you knew the potential consequences of sleeping in not-so-fresh sheets, you probably wouldn’t be so lax.
“Depending upon what your bed is used for, and also how clean you are when you get in it (and indeed whether you wear nightwear), your bed can get pretty filthy and may actually be causing your body harm,” Dr Lisa Ackerley, hygiene specialist, told Daily Mail Australia.
“Think of all the things you do in bed,” she says. “Apart from being the place where we go to sleep, it can double up as the home office, the tea room, the dining table or even your dog or cat’s bed.”
But how bad can it be? According to Dr Ackerley, very. Not washing sheets weekly at high temperatures (above 60°C is ideal) can put you at risk of nasty infections and even viruses.
“We have all sorts of bacteria and fungi on our bodies and most are perfectly fine, but the bed is a great place for them to breed, particularly if you think about all the moisture that builds up as we sleep, saliva, fluids, skin cells and, of course, all the other things that get into the bed, from faecal matter to food,” she says, naming Staphylococcus aureus as one of the primary culprits.
“These bacteria will build up on sheets if you don’t launder them for some time, and can cause infections, particularly if you happen to nick the skin by scratching whilst asleep,” Dr Ackerley adds.
Allergic reactions to dust mites (or more specifically, dust mite droppings – we told you this wasn’t pleasant), yeast and fungal infections are also potential side effects of not regularly washing your sheets.
So you can either get off your ass and wash your sheets, or hope your new bedbug neighbours aren’t too noisy.
A version of this article originally appeared on MarieClaire.com.au