How Often You Should Wash Your Sheets After You Have Sex In Them

Do you remember the last time you washed your sheets? Was it two weeks ago? A month? Maybe some time in late September? Either way, there's a chance you're probably not washing your sheets enough. And, if those sheets are seeing more than just you sleeping, as in you're having sex in them, then you may want to consider upping how often you wash those sheets.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 people by Mattress Advisor, the average person changes their sheets every 24.4 days. For those of you who aren't the mathematician that I am, that's more than three weeks, meaning we're getting into almost a whole damn month between sheet washing. As someone who's a germaphobe and has OCD tendencies, these numbers make my skin crawl. When you figure that humans shed 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every hour and the amount of time we spend in our bed, either alone or with a partner, or multiple partners, just think of all that, well, mess. Then toss in sweating, bodily fluids, maybe some stinky feet — are you picturing what I'm picturing? Because what I'm picturing is a petri dish of a bacteria party with no end in sight! At least not until those sheets are washed.

Which brings us to just how often you should wash those sex sheets. While the same study found that most people wash their sex sheets four to 11 days after having sex in them, with men leaning more toward the 11 days and women leaning more toward four days, is there really a right time to wash those sex sheets? Honestly, it depends.

You Can Wait Until Laundry Day

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"If you are the only person sleeping in the bed after a one-nighter, since you have already come in contact with this person’s body, I think it’s fine to wait until laundry day," Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen, PhD, tells Bustle. "Provided you didn’t seriously mess up the bed!"

If you're someone who washes their bed sheets every 11 days and you're comfortable with that, then carry on doing things how you normally do them. However, things like having sex on your period or if there's been some ejaculation, which might have gotten things a little messy, you might want to seriously consider washing them the next day.

Unless Another Partner Comes Over

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"I would argue strongly for changing the sheets if a different partner is coming over to share them," says Queen. "That new partner did not consent to lie in the dried sweat of a stranger, you know? This would under most circumstances be more of a 'sex etiquette' than a 'sexual health' issue."

Although you might be content to roll around in the sheets with whom you had sex with someone else, even if you're just having a one-night stand, your partner for the evening might not be down with it. So, as Queen points out, for the sake of etiquette, wash 'em.


Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

In addition to all those skin cells that are shed, especially between two people getting it on under the sheets, there is a possibility for spreading STIs that can be contracted even without intercourse. For example, trichomoniasis is highly contagious and will hitch a ride on almost anything, making it extremely easy to spread.

"It probably wouldn’t be impossible to get a contagious skin condition from unwashed sheets," says Queen, "and of course we know that crab lice and scabies can be caught from bedding."

Ultimately, when it comes to washing sex sheets, it's your call. But it's important to take into consideration your partner, as well as what might be living on those sheets.