Changing bed sheets is one of those things that I intend to do at least weekly, but often forgo in favor of what I believe to be more important to-do list items, like showering, eating a meal while it's still hot, and sleeping. But after learning all of the gross things that happen if you don't change your baby's sheets often, I am starting to think I need to re-order my priorities. Turns out, my friends, that unwashed crib sheets are gross. Like, seriously gross.
As HuffPost reports, and according to Mary Malone, a laundry expert, unwashed bed sheets can contain things like sweat, bacteria, urine, and feces. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your baby's sheets also likely contain a large quantity of dust mites — a microscopic relative of spiders — that love to lurk in unwashed bedding and can exacerbate allergies and asthma in your little one. Good Housekeeping recommends changing your sheets at least every other week. However, you may want to change them more often than that for some very good reasons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bacteria like staph can contaminate bed sheets, and NBC News reports that viruses like norovirus can live on bed sheets for weeks.
For more about these and other gross things that are probably lurking in your baby's room right now, read on. Even if they aren't. though, you should probably change their crib sheets, like, right now. You know, just in case.
They Get Stained
Anyone who has a baby knows they produce a lot of fluids, and some solids, on a daily basis. Chances are you’ve seen a puddle of drool under their chubby cheek or a circle of pee from a leaky diaper at least once, and that means stains on their crib sheets.
Thankfully, according to Martha Stewart, most baby stains — like spit-up, breast milk, and even poop — are easily removed with the right stain treatment for the job. According to her website, protein stains like these are best addressed with an enzyme cleaner and a wash on warm with regular detergent.
They Start To Smell
While newborn baby smell is amazing, anyone who has a baby has probably noticed that they don't always smell that great. Between leaky diapers, stinky cheese folds, and milk breath, your baby can stink, and that means their sheets might start to smell if you don't change or wash them regularly.
To remove urine and that less-than-delightful pee smell from your baby's crib sheets, Martha Stewart recommends using ammonia diluted in water and a stain pre-treater before you wash. If you can’t remember the last time you changed their crib sheets, you should probably go do it right now, even if they pass the smell test.
They Become A Dust Mite Habitat
According to the AAP, dust mites — microscopic relatives of spiders — cam cause indoor allergies. Contrary to their name, dust mites don't live in dust. In fact, their favorite place to hang out is slightly moist, warm bedding — like your baby's unwashed crib sheets. According to the AAP, if you don't wash your bedding regularly dust mite feces can be inhaled, causing you and your kids to wheeze and sneeze, and worsen health conditions like allergies and asthma.
Bacteria Can Grow On Them
If you don't wash your sheets regularly, bacteria can grow on them. In fact, a study conducted by mattress company Amerisleep found that after one week, your unwashed pillow case contains 17,442 times more bacteria as a toilet seat. Before you freak out, though, you should know that these bacteria aren't necessarily harmful. Still, it's pretty gross.
If that's not horrifying enough, according to the CDC one potentially dangerous bacteria — methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — can live on bed sheets and cause skin infections.
They Might Attract Ants
According to Earth Kind Pest Control, baby spit-up, formula, and breast milk can actually smell great... to ants and other insects, that is. To avoid a living nightmare in your baby's nursery, they recommend washing stained baby items — like sheets, clothing, and blankets — right away to eliminate sweet smells and avoid attracting creepy pests that might bite your little one (or gross you completely out).
Viruses Can Make Your Baby Sick
As reported by The New York Times, the flu virus can only survive on soft surfaces, like fabrics, for about eight hours. However, as NBC News reports, other viruses, like norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, can live on fabric for weeks, and even survive washing if bleach or hot water isn't used.