Just how dirty are YOUR bedsheets?

We are all guilty of putting off washing our bed sheets a little longer than we should - but just how long is too long when it comes to changing our linen?

A leading expert in the field of microbes – which include bacteria, fungi and viruses- has claimed we should be doing our laundry ‘at least’ once a week to stave off dead skin cells, unwanted bacteria and dust mites.

Paul Morris, who has 20 years of experience specializing in household protection against the spread of microbes, said: ‘It is extremely important to wash bed sheets on a regular basis as the build up of dead skin cells can lead to dust mites, unwanted bacteria and unpleasant odours.

The situation is even more vital for pillowcases, which should be washed at least twice a week. The build up of bacteria, skin cells and dust mites on pillowcases so close to entrances to the body (eyes, ears, nose, mouth) means that they should be given special attention.

‘I would recommend washing sheets at least once a week, and pillowcases at least twice a week. The key to keeping bacteria away is the quality of the wash.’

By law in the UK, hospitals have to wash laundry above 70°C to effectively kill bacteria.

Yet, in the home, we are urged to save energy and many households now wash at 30°C to 40°C. This temperature is not high enough to kill of bad bacteria.

Homeowners should aim to wash more frequently, either using high temperatures (at least 60C) or ‘more economically’ using a probiotic laundry Liquid such as Probisana. The probiotics in Probisana Laundry Detergent tackle the bad bacteria on your bed linen, and reduce allergens like dust mites. This effect lasts for days, keeping your linen cleaner for longer.

You can also spray your mattress and linen with with StaBiotics Mist from AirbioticsNZ; this probiotic spray uses the power of beneficial bacteria to neutralise the bacteria that feed on dead skin cells and dust mite droppings.

Paul’s comments come as new research reveals less than a third (28 per cent) of UK households change their sheets once a week. Pillowcases are usually changed at the same time as sheets.

The research, from Time 4 Sleep, also revealed that 40 per cent of Brits change their bed sheets once every two weeks, while almost a quarter (24 per cent) wash them just once every three to four weeks.

It found that many people were unaware of how unhygienic leaving sheets unwashed for weeks on end can be.