This is how often you should be washing your pillowcase, according to the experts

It’s more often than ya think

A set of sheets and pillowcases on a bed with a table next to it
(Image credit: Getty)

There’s one place in the house where we start the day and finish the day, and that’s the bed (AKA my fave place). We’re supposed to have 7-9 hours sleep on here, which is a lot of time for bacteria to build up the pillowcase.

I always used to put the pillowcases in the same wash as the sheets. But because our whole faces are on there, it made me think that a lot of dirt must be trapped in them. This got me wondering how often we should actually be cleaning our pillowcases — and so I sought out expert advice.

They’ve answered the key question, plus chatted to me about why it’s important to clean your pillowcase, how often you should do it if you have acne, and what happens if you don’t clean it. Basically, I’ve got all your bases covered.

Here we go — your pillowcase is going to feel so much fresher once you follow this advice… 

Why is it important to wash your pillowcase?

Just like your sheets, washing your pillowcase is super important. “When you use your pillowcase daily, it accumulates oils, dirt, and sweat," certified sleep science coach Bridget Chapman from Sleepopolis explains. "This can provide an environment for bacteria buildup and can potentially cause allergies.” Not only this, but she says that the buildup of these substances on your pillowcase can also harm your hair and skin.

Jimmy MacDonald, co-founder of bedding company Authenticity50 adds: “Pillowcases get additional sweat and drool that soils them faster than sheets.” I’m a major sleep drooler, and found mold on my pillow when I hadn’t washed it for like a month. Ew.

How often should you be washing your pillowcase?

You should be washing your pillowcase more often than your sheets. “Pillowcases should be washed every 3-4 days so that you have a clean surface to sleep on,” MacDonald explains. For sheets, he says that once a week is best.

To keep washing your pillowcase frequently, he recommends investing in a quality pillowcase that will hold up well to repeated washings and use. MacDonald advises to choose cotton percale pillowcases to keep your face cool, such as these Authenticity50 ones which have over 180 five-star reviews.

How often should you wash your pillowcase to avoid acne?

Acne can be such a mare to deal with, and one way you can help prevent it is by washing your pillowcase more often. “For those who are prone to acne, more frequent washing may help prevent breakouts," Chapman says. "Aim for washing pillowcases every two days or so.”

However, one of the best ways to avoid acne is to not use products with pore-clogging ingredients. “You could have a fresh pillowcase every night but if your hair products have pore-cloggers like coconut oil or shea butter you will still break out,” Danielle Gronich, co-founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare adds.

What happens if you don't wash your pillowcase?

If you don’t wash your pillowcase, the air that you’re breathing in from this will be super dirty. “Pillowcases build up a lot more bodily fluids from our breathing and mouth as well as getting our dirty hair and, yes, dandruff on them. Cleaning them regularly helps to keep your skin clean and the air you're breathing fresh,” MacDonald says.

Gronich adds that it also won’t be good for your health: “You're likely to get congestion on your dominant sleep side (generally the right side) if you chronically forget to wash your pillowcase.” As soon as I’m done typing this, my pillowcases are going straight in the washing machine TBH.

Want to keep your whole bed as fresh as poss? This is how often you should be cleaning your sheets

Eve Smallman
Staff Writer

Hi there! I’m a staff writer at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses.