How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets After Having Sex?

Learn when you need to launder to keep your sheets as clean as possible.

You probably wash your hands and shower regularly. Maybe you even toss your pillowcase in the hamper a few times a week to prevent bacterial buildup that could result in breakouts.

But chances are there's one thing you're not washing as often as you should: your bedsheets.

The general rule of thumb is to wash your sheets once a week, no matter what you do or don't do in them. Because even when you sleep in head-to-toe pajamas, your bedsheets accumulate a nightly load of dead skin cells, sweat, dust, and possibly even small amounts of other bodily fluids.

Week after week, all these substances make for a nice environment where bacteria can thrive, Sherry Ross, MD, OB-GYN in Santa Monica, California, and author of She-ology. The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health, told Health. That sets you up to develop health issues such as rashes, breakouts, and allergies.

If you have had sex, though, you may need to wash your sheets more often.

Exactly How Often To Wash Sheets After Sex

Does having sex change the once-a-week rule? "If it's a regular partner, change the sheets at least once a week—and more if there's been obvious soiling," Kim Langon, MD, an OB-GYN at the family wellness site Parenting Pod, told Health. By "soiling," we're talking about a wet spot where your bodies were, goopy marks from lube, or even slight dampness from sweat.

These fluids can all breed bacteria, possibly triggering skin issues and infections. "If a woman is on her period, there might be blood," Felice Gersh, MD, OB-GYN and author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist's Lifeline to Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones, and Happiness, told Health. "There's probably semen. Saliva might be on the scene, along with sweat. There will be vaginal fluids." There's also the potential for fecal matter if you participate in anal play.

What if you had a one-night stand? Since you probably don't know much about the person's hygiene habits, change the sheets after the hookup to be on the safe side. Dr. Gersh believed it also came down to partner etiquette. No one wants to have sex in the same bed where another partner was not long before, whether they left behind any bodily fluids or not.

How To Minimize the Mess so You Wash Less

Of course, there's a simple trick to avoiding messing up your sheets so you don't have to haul them to the laundry room: Lay down a towel before you have sex, which should absorb any fluids. Once you're done with sexual activity, you can toss the towel and snuggle in your dry sheets. If the towel gets dirty, at least it's a lot easier to wash.

The type of lube you use can also cut your laundry time. Avoid silicone-, petroleum-, and oil-based lubes, which tend to leave grease spots, and go with water-soluble brands, Mayla Green, co-founder of TheAdultToyShop.com, told Health. If you do use a lube that isn't water-soluble and end up with stained sheets, Green suggested saturating the area with dish soap before laundering in hot water.

Finally, if you have your period but are afraid of bleeding all over your bed, you can always try the Period Sex Blanket, designed to absorb blood.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles