Do You Actually Need a Top Sheet? We Found Out.

You want a clean barrier between you and the comforter...right?

If you’ve ever purchased a sheet set, and we’re guessing you have, you know what’s included. There’s a sheet that fits snugly over the mattress, two pillowcases and a top sheet, the flat sheet that lies on top of the fitted sheet.

There are differing opinions about how often sheets should be washed, but now there’s a new debate around the top sheet. Do we all need one? I never even questioned the presence of the top sheet until my college years, when I noticed many of my male friends didn’t see the need for a top sheet (or any sheets, in some cases). But should we really be following the lead of teenage boys when it comes to our linens?

Read on to find out how frequently to wash the top sheet (and all your bed linens) and if it’s advisable to get rid of the top sheet altogether.

How Often Should You Wash Your Top Sheet?

You should wash sheets at least every two weeks, but ideally once a week. That may seem like a lot, but there’s a reason. Ready for some gross facts? The average person sheds skin cells, oil, sweat and even saliva every night. That alone is pretty disgusting; but keep in mind that those elements also create a breeding ground for bacteria and dust mites on your sheets, mattress and pillows. Irritation from dust mites can lead to allergy flare-ups and rashes.

Do You Really Need a Top Sheet?

Is the top sheet absolutely necessary? Not exactly. The purpose of a top sheet is to create a barrier between you and your comforter. Ideally, this protects your comforter or duvet cover from all those skin cells and bacteria so you don’t have to wash that bulky comforter as often as your sheets. However, some argue that the top sheet usually gets tangled up while you sleep, ending up at the bottom of the mattress. Why even have the top sheet if it’s not doing its job?

It all comes down to personal preference. Just keep in mind, if you decide to ditch the top sheet, you’ll need to treat your duvet cover or comforter as you would your sheets, and wash it at least every two weeks.

Our Best Sheet Washing Tips

Now that you know how often to wash your sheets, what’s the best way to launder them? First of all, use the hottest temperature water that’s safe for your sheets—check the label to find out. Hot water kills most germs as well as those pesky dust mites. It’s also best to wash bedsheets by themselves. Other items can get tangled up with the sheets, not allowing them to move freely within the washer. (This rule applies to washing towels as well.)

When it’s time to dry, consider going the old-fashioned route with a clothesline outside. Sunshine is a natural disinfectant and will help make white sheets even brighter. If line drying isn’t possible, tumble dry on low. You also want to wash pillows every three to six months.

Next up: Check out our complete guide on how to do laundry.

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.