Earlier this month, Starts at 60 asked readers how often they changed their bed sheets.
While it’s something that everyone does, the answers we received were varied.
Some suggested that they changed their sheets once a week.
Others insisted that changing them twice a week was appropriate, while others hinted that they waited three to four week before putting their sheets and bed linen through the wash.
Further comments hinted that people became more diligent when illnesses such as the flu were floating around, while others said they didn’t use sheets at all.
Even popular Australian TV presenters have had their say.
On a recent edition of Today, host Deborah Knight suggested that she doesn’t wash her bed linen every week.
“I confess, I don’t do it once a week, it’s probably once every three weeks or even longer at my place,” she said.
“Making the bed is boring. It’s such a boring job.”
Scientists have now weighed in on the debate and given a definitive answer.
Paul Morris, a leading expert in the field of microbes explained that people should be washing their bed sheets at least once a week.
Speaking to Daily Mail, he revealed that bacteria, fungi and viruses can grow if bed linen is left unwashed for too long.
“I would recommend washing sheets at least once a week,” he said.
“The key to keeping bacteria away is the quality of the wash.”
He added that hospitals are obligated by law to wash dirty laundry above 70°C to ensure that all harmful bacteria are killed.
Most households opt for a cold wash or use a heat setting of 30°C to 40°C to save power, but they could be leaving themselves open to all sorts of health issues.
It should also be noted that an old mattress can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Mary-Louise McLaws, Professor of Epidemiology in Health Care Infection and Infectious Diseases Control recently told The Huffington Post Australia that people need to be thorough when it comes to the cleanliness of their bed.
“It is very important to be rigorous in changing bedding, all the way down to the mattress protection. Always use a mattress protector as it increases the hygiene life of the mattress,” she said.
“Most good mattresses have a 10 year life of the springs – no longer.”