How Often Should You Be Washing And Changing Your Pillowcase?

Most people aren't particular fans of laundry day, and washing bedding can be a household's most annoying laundry task. From stripping the bed and wrangling sheets into the wash to cramming pillows back into their cases and struggling to fold fitted sheets, laundering your bedding is just a hassle. So if you find yourself skipping that item on your to-do list for weeks or even months at a time, who can blame you?

Unfortunately, there's a reason that Sleep Advisor recommends washing sheets once a week, pushing to two weeks at the most. When you're hopefully spending seven to ten hours tucked into your bedroom sanctuary, it becomes very important that you keep that sanctuary clean. Unwashed sheets are not only unpleasant but can be an out-and-out health risk, contributing to issues from eczema to the flu (via HealthiNation).

But sheets are one thing — what about pillowcases? Pressed up against your face all night, one could argue that pillowcases are the most important article of bedding to refresh. Just how crucial is it to wash and change your pillowcase regularly?

Why you should change your pillowcase often

If you follow a thorough face cleansing routine, you may think that your pillowcase is in good shape. But even the freshest face will leave behind dead cells, bacteria, and sebum. These impurities are then redeposited from your pillow to your face every time you hit the hay. By the end of the week, you're laying your just-washed face against seven days' worth of unpleasantness.

This can be extra disastrous if you have sensitive skin already prone to issues like acne. By constantly reintroducing dirt and oil to your face, you run the risk of clogged pores and brand-new breakouts (via First Derm). It's like a vicious, never-ending cycle, moving contaminants from your face to your pillow and back again. And this is all assuming that you follow your nightly skincare routine religiously. If you occasionally slip into bed with a full face of makeup, you can add even more impurities to your pillowcase. Unwashed pillows can also attract dust mites, which are invisible to the naked eye. If you're prone to allergic reactions, ongoing exposure to mites can cause breathing issues or even asthma attacks (via Mayo Clinic).

How bad can dirty pillowcases really get? Let's put it this way: bacterial swabs comparing pillowcases to toilet seats are hard to tell apart (via Smithsonian Magazine). That's right — your bedding may be as filthy as a toilet. So, what is the ideal way to keep your pillowcase pristine and protect your skin?

When and how to wash your pillowcases

As with the rest of your bedding, to keep your pillowcases as clean as possible, it's recommended to wash them at least once a week in the hottest water possible. This will help remove dirt and contaminants while killing off bacteria, microbes, and those terrible dust mites. If you are struggling with acne or a sensitive complexion, you may want to wash your pillowcases with a detergent and fabric softener free of any dyes or fragrances, as these can cause irritation (via Health). And between washes, don't forget to flip your pillow over partway through the week so you're sleeping on its cleaner underside.

Sometimes, you may notice your pillowcases yellowing. That's because residue can get left behind in the fibers, even if you're cleaning your pillowcases regularly. To deal with any discoloration, try applying stain remover, dish soap, or a splash of vinegar to the fabric before putting it in the laundry (via Embassy Cleaners).

If you use special pillowcases, such as satin or silk pillowcases for your hair, they may come with equally special washing instructions. For instance, some people prefer to wash their delicate pillowcases by hand using baby shampoo, while others will only throw them in the laundry if they're tucked in a mesh bag and put on the gentle cycle. The brand that sold your silk pillowcase should have included wash instructions, or at least have tips on their website, so check there for specific guidance.