Hygiene has never been more important, and now more than ever we are reminded on a daily basis that the responsibility lies with us to wash our hands thoroughly with soap or use antibacterial gel regularly. But what about the bedding we sleep in every night, and the towels we use to dry ourselves with?
There is plenty of confusion about how often towels and bedding should be washed.
One in 20 people wash their bedding once a month, and a third of people clean them every fortnight. But is this right?
Should it be every week or every month? And what about during the pandemic?
Is there a certain length of recommended time to wait between washes and how often should key items be replaced?
Express.co.uk chats to cleaning whizz and Head of Product Development at Christy England Helena Mead to find out the answers.
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Hygiene tips: During the pandemic, you need to keep an eye on how often you wash your sheets
Hygiene tips: Take care when washing dirty items, and make sure you wash your hands after
The NHS has released a list of DOs and DON’Ts for behaviour during the pandemic:
- wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneezeput used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- clean objects and surfaces you touch often (like door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
- clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you have touched
- share towels, including hand towels and tea towel
If one person in your household has symptoms, try to keep two metres away from each other and DON’T share a bed if there’s somewhere else one of you you can sleep in the house.
As well as following this advice, you may need to wash your bedding and towels more frequently, but how often?
Helena said: “In the current circumstances, it is difficult to know exactly how often bedding, including duvets and pillows, and towels should be washed, when in fact some items need to be washed every few days.”
Hygiene tips: Wash your bedding at least once a week
How often do I need to wash my bedding?
Helena revealed that bedding should be washed once a week.
She said: “Be sure to follow the washing instructions on the care label, as different fabrics need to be washed at different temperatures.
“Many people get this wrong and leave it far too long.
“Not washing your bedding for a number of weeks can result in a build-up of sweat and bacteria which over time can be harmful.
”Before you wash, make sure not to overload the machine to avoid damaging the bedding in any way.”
The NHS advises washing your bedding at 60 degrees, and use a bleach-based laundry product if you can to help stop germs spreading.
Check the care label on your bedding to see if bleach-based products are suitable.
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Helena added: “After washing, remove from the machine as soon as possible and for best results, tumble dry straight away.”
If you leave laundry sitting in the machine, any remaining germs will multiply in the warm and moist environment.
Some experts have suggested wearing gloves while handling bedding that has been slept in by someone who is showing symptoms, and this also applies to towels and clothing.
Do wear gloves to handle bedding that’s been slept in by someone who’s ill.
This also applies to towels and clothes.
You should also thoroughly wash your hands after handling dirty bedding, towels or clothing.
Hygiene tips: Pillows are a breeding ground for germs, so pay attention
How often do I need to wash my pillows?
Do you wash your actual pillows or just the cases?
As a general rule, you should wash your pillowcases at least once a week.
If you haven’t washed your actual pillows in a while, you could be laying your head on a pillow infested with a build-up of sweat and dead skin, said Helena.
She advised: “Pillows should be washed every 3 months as, similar to bedding.
“Most good quality ones will be able to endure several washes without going lumpy.
“Check the label, though, as synthetic and feather pillows can be washed at slightly different temperatures.”
How often do I need to wash towels?
After washing our hands thoroughly with soap and water, we reach for a towel to dry them with.
But do you ever think about what is on the towel?
Helena said: “It’s very important to keep towels clean.
“Towels pick up bacteria from the human body, and combined with the addition of moisture, towels can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
“Using a towel that is used, unwashed and damp can spread bacteria throughout the household.”
Hygiene tips: Wash your towels after two days of use
You should wash your towels- body or hand- after two days of use.
She added: “Washing towels will expel bacteria on the towel.
“You need to wash towels at 60 degrees in order to get rid of all the microorganisms.
“After every use, allow towels to completely dry out by hanging them up on a radiator where possible.
“Rotate your towels to give wet towels time to dry.
“Don’t share your towels with family members.
“Everybody should have a separate towel to discourage the spread of bacteria between people.
“Avoid hanging towels to dry on the same hook/bar, and spread them out as much as possible so that as much surface area is exposed as possible.”