You Should Be Changing Your Pillowcase More Often Than You Probably Are

Practicing good sleep hygiene — habits that help you get good rest every night — is important for overall health and well-being. But what about good hygiene while sleeping, like keeping your bedding clean? That's crucial too, according to experts. Per Sleep Foundation, your sheets should be washed at least once a week, while your duvet cover requires freshening up once or twice a month. This is just enough to keep the dirt, sweat, and irritants that collect in your bedding under control.


However, your pillowcase, where you lay your head every night, is an entirely different story. "Most people don't realize that our hair holds more dirt in it than anywhere else on our bodies," Chris Brantner, a certified sleep coach, told Insider. "Each night, we're mopping our pillowcases with it. Not only that, we are rubbing our faces all over our pillowcases as well, leaving behind sweat, oils, dead skin cells ... you name it."

Because pillowcases are especially likely to collect dirt and grime, they should be changed frequently — and odds are, you're not changing yours enough. Here's why you should consider swapping out your pillowcases every few days and what can happen if you don't.

A dirty pillowcase could make you sick

To keep your face clean while you snooze, weekly pillowcase changes just won't cut it. Though there isn't an exact rule for how often to wash your pillow cover, Oksana-Georgia M., a skin expert and senior practitioner at the Skin+IQ clinic, explained to Refinery29 that it should be swapped out "at least two to three times a week" for the sake of your complexion. "This will help prevent breakouts and congested skin," she added.


Clogged pores aren't the only reason to change your pillowcase regularly. "By not taking care of your pillowcase, you are subjecting yourself to particles that can get into your respiratory system and not only trigger an affliction like asthma, but other forms of illness," Bill Fish, co-founder of sleep resource Tuck Sleep, shared with Insider. These particles could be from common allergens, like dust mites and pollen. In some cases, dirty bedding can also transmit infectious skin conditions such as staph or ringworm, as infectious disease expert Dr. Thomas A. Russo told Self.

A few tips can keep your pillowcases clean for longer

If you don't have time to change your pillowcase every couple of days — or it's simply not that high on your list of priorities — you might be off the hook by following a few tips. First, one way to make your pillowcase last longer is by flipping it every night or two so you're not using the same side night after night.


Next, you likely already know the risks of not washing your face enough (hello, acne!), and the risk is especially high if you skip your nighttime cleanse. When you don't wash your face before bed, the oil, sweat, makeup, and anything else lurking on your skin will transfer to your pillowcase, breeding bacteria and fungus. To keep your sleeping space clean, always wash up before turning in for the night.

Your pillowcase material may also make a difference. According to Cleveland Clinic, hypoallergenic bedding can keep allergens at bay, while Healthline suggests non-absorbent silk for acne sufferers.

Finally, a clean pillowcase won't stay that way for long when covering a filthy pillow underneath. The Sleep Doctor says that pillows should be washed regularly, according to manufacturer instructions, and typically need to be replaced every one or two years.