Is it Bad to Sleep Without Sheets? | Updated for 2020

Is it Bad to Sleep Without Sheets?

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sleeping without sheets

Some time ago, I remember crashing on the bed without any sheets on it. I came home early and my better half screamed at me to get off the bed and I cant sleep on it without sheets. She was doing some laundry and decided to wash the sheets and comforter while she was at it. This got me thinking, is it bad to sleep on a bed without sheets?

Yes. While it may not seem like a problem, you sweat in your sleep. This sweat gets stuck in your bedsheets, but without the sheets, it gets soaked into the mattress. This not only limits the mattresses’ lifespan but also creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Sleeping without sheets on a bed is a bad idea.

Kind of gross, but I never thought about that. I figured I would be fine sleeping without sheets on the bed for a short while, but it turns out, my better half does know more than me. Again.

*Update – Check out my new post on The Pros and Cons of Bamboo Sheets! These sheets have changed my life!

Is it Bad to Sleep Without Sheets?

dirty mattress

Why Sleeping on a Mattress Without Sheets is Gross

After doing more research on this subject, I am thoroughly grossed out. I am so glad I asked this question and got the chance to look into it, and you will be too. If you are ready to join this team, keep reading. If not, leave now!

Last chance…

When sleeping on a mattress without sheets, imagine sweat, bodily oils, dead skin and other things your body releases getting caught up inside the fabric of that mattress. Starting to get a better picture? This builds up over time and can lead to a bacterial breeding ground that can transmit illnesses to you or attract other forms of life, like bedbugs.

Getting grosser now? Are you starting to see the bigger picture?

When bed sheets are on a mattress, the sheets catch the oils, sweat and dead skin and should get cleaned on at least a weekly basis. You are washing your sheets at least weekly right? The bedding in the home can easily be overlooked when it comes to washing clothes, but keep in mind, you sleep in it for 8 hours a night on average and that is about 56 hours a week. You spend more time in your bed than you do at a full time job. That is a lot of time and considerably more time than you spend in that outfit that you wash every-time you wear it. Why not wash your bedding more often? Do not forget your pillowcases!


Lytton Sleep Savings

sleep on top of sheets

Sleeping on Top of a Comforter

Same idea works here. While people wonder is it bad to sleep without sheets on your bed, comforters usually get washed less than the actual bed sheets on the bed. Sleeping on top of the comforters is not ideal, but since it is washed considerably more than your mattress, its thought of as a little less worse.

The ideal sleep situation is like a sandwich. On the bottom, it is the mattress, sheet, YOU, sheet, and the comforter. This configuration places you sleeping between two sheets that get washed and cleaned on a weekly basis. Also, I LOVE clean sheets fresh out of the dryer. The scent from the dryer sheet and the smoothness of the warm sheets just puts me right to sleep! Just an extra incentive to clean those sheets more often. Sleeping without sheets is just a different experience. A more disgusting experience.

If you are not throwing dirty clothes and napping on top of the comforter, you can get away with washing it less often. Do not let it go too long though, bacteria can still breed with just a little bit of oil trapped in the comforter. You wont trap as much of it with your arms out when getting in bed, but it still adds up over time and can create that breeding ground.

At least if you are not sleeping without sheets, you can stick the sheets in the washer and dryer and have a clean mattress.


change sheets

How Often Should I Change the Sheets on the Bed?

Often. There are people that say daily, but the most consistent answer is every few days. At the worst case, you want to put that on your weekly to-do list. Toss in your pillowcases and maybe even the pillows if they are machine washable every month, or at least every other month, with the comforter.

While the usual tradition is to wash the comforters and pillows with every season change, you cant go wrong with once a month. Heavy washing can wear them out faster than usual, so space out these cleanings as comfortable as you can. Knowing what I know now about what gets collected in them, I am comfortable with monthly.

Think about it this way, you spend almost 60 hours a week in that bed. You wash your outfit after wearing it for 10 hours or so. Imagine wearing the same t-shirt or pants for 6 days in a row. Is it gonna get funky? Your bed will too. Especially if you toss your dirty clothes on it while you are changing clothes or lay on it for extended periods.

For my household, we change the sheets at least twice a week. More often if there is a lot of activity going on with those sheets. I don’t think I have to go into details there, but sweat and other fluids, can accumulate in the sheets so we pretty much change the sheets as soon as possible.


What Happens if I Don’t Change the Sheets on a Regular Basis?

If you have read this far, then you know that oils, bodily fluids and dead skin can accumulate in the mattress creating a breeding ground for bacteria and other infestations that make me cringe just thinking about it. I read an article about how one mattress had 10 lbs of bed bugs and bed bug poop stuffed into it. Oh my god I am so cringing right now and seriously looking at new mattresses. I’ve only had mine for a year, so I am prematurely freaking out.

Lets make this even worse. I swear I am not trying to scare you, but trying to inform you. Your apartment/bedroom/house has dust and other allergens that just float around your home until it finds a place to crash. Think furniture and floors. However, your bed and pillows stores this stuff too. So, do you think is it bad to sleep without sheets on your mattress yet?

There was a study done in 2006 about bedding. More closely about fungal contamination of bedding. They found that in pillows older than a year and a half could be home to 4 to 16 different species of fungal contamination. More species can be found in the synthetic pillows. Read this study at your own peril.

Sometimes its best to not know what is in the sausage before you eat it.


antifungal sheets

Isn’t there Some Type of Antibacterial Bedding to Help Prevent This?

Yes. A quick Amazon search here shows a slew of products aimed at keeping a clean bedding space. These sheets do not need to be washed as often, but I would prefer to continue to wash those on a normal routine to keep everything clean. The idea of sleeping on a fungus infused pillow that my nose is resting on now keeps me awake a lot longer than it should.

This product looks promising on Amazon. It completely wraps the mattress in a shield to help prevent fungal growth. I am definitely going to look into these for my family. I need to do my research first, but that is a good starting point for you.

New Suggestion, Check out my newer post on The Pros and Cons of Bamboo Sheets! Bamboo sheets are naturally hypoallergenic and easy to clean. They have changed my life and I hope they will change yours too!

How to Clean Your Mattress

Already slept on a mattress without sheets? You absolutely do not want to sleep on that mattress again until you get it cleaned. I usually recommend a professional for this, but you can do it at home if you have the right tools.

First Step, Take Everything Off Your Bed.

Pillows, sheets, linens, everything. Go ahead and toss it into the washing machine. Read the instructions on the pillows and sheets for how to wash them before you begin.

Use the hottest water setting on your washing machine to help kill off any bacteria that may already be thriving in them. Gross, I know. Better safe than sorry at this point!

Find something like this Lysol Laundry Sanitizer on Amazon, or at your local grocery store, for added measure. This adds some extra cleaning power to help sanitize those sheets!

Once you get down to just the mattress, move on to step two.

Cleaning the Mattress

Begin by vacuuming the mattress with the floor attachment. You want to pull out any of the easily cleanable stuff like dust, skin, hair or other debris you can suck up easily with the vacuum. This will make the next step easier to manage.

This is a given, but I am going to say it anyway… make sure your vacuum attachments are clean before you start!

Clean and Deodorize the Mattress

Find any staining or spills and blot them with a cold damp cloth. Try to get out as much as you can without pushing it further into the bedding. Don’t scrub hard here, you want to get as much up as you can without driving it further into the mattress.

If you have a memory foam mattress, do not pour or spray cleaning chemicals. These mattresses are not designed to get wet and can hold the chemicals inside.

A simple mixture of 1 tablespoon of dish soap and two table spoons of hydrogen peroxide mixed in a small bowl is a quick and effective cleaner. Everyone has these in their home. If you have these in your home, then you do not need to buy extra cleaners. I love DIY stuff anyway, but you can purchase cleaners if you prefer.

Dip a toothbrush and get a little bit of the mixture on the bristles. Then scrub LIGHTLY on the remaining stains. Once you are finished, wipe away any remaining cleaner with a damp cloth. This should handle most non-organic staining you will find on the mattress, like food or drinks.

Clean Organic Staining with Enzymes

For organic staining, like urine, blood, sweat, pet “accidents” and other fluids, use a cleaning enzyme like this one on Amazon.


Spray the cleaning enzyme on a damp cloth and blot the organic stains first. Let the cleaner soak on the stain for about 15 minutes before you clean it off. You can use the same cloth to clean it up by blotting it with cold water.

The enzyme cleaner will break down the oils in the organic stains allowing you to clean it up without a big mess and without damaging your mattress.

Grab the Baking Soda

Take the baking soda and sprinkle it lightly over the entire mattress. It doesn’t need to look like a winter wonderland, just enough to cover the top of the mattress.

The baking soda will help further break down any remaining stains and absorb any left over odors. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer you can let it set, the more effective it will be.

I like to do this before heading to work and clean it up when I get home. This way I get the full cleaning and deodorizing power with plenty of time for it to do its job.

Clean it Up

Once you have let it set for at least 30 minutes. Use your vacuum again to clean up the baking soda. Your vacuum usually has attachments that will help get into those nooks and crevices to full clean it pretty efficiently.

Once done, let your mattress air out for a couple hours. Any remaining moisture will dry out. If you have some windows that let light on it, let the sun help you out! The UV from the sun will also help sanitize the mattress, making your job just a little bit easier!

Extra Steps (Not Necessary, but Recommended!)

Flip that Mattress Over

If you can do this safely, go ahead and flip the mattress over. Now that you have one side clean, you can extend the life of your mattress by sleeping on the other side.

Use a Mattress Cover

Mattress covers, like these, are not expensive and can save you a ton of time when you clean your mattress. Since you need to do this at least once a year, I do it every season to be safe, this will make it easier to clean. The mattress cover will grab most of the stains before it makes it to your mattress.

Always double check that the mattress cover is machine washable. It seems obvious, but check anyway!

Make the Bed

Now that your mattress is clean and you have clean sheets, go ahead and put everything together. Double check that you have no moisture spots left before you put the sheets on it.

Now that you KNOW the bed is clean, I guarantee you will sleep better! Just knowing everything is clean makes a huge difference!

Also, your favorite dryer sheets have left your favorite smell to fall asleep to!



So, is it bad to sleep without sheets? Your bed is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Your sheets and mattress collects everything from dust, sweat, bodily fluids and dead skin cells. As you sleep, you push this stuff deeper into your sheets and your mattress. Thinking about it now, aren’t you? It is best to keep it clean by washing your sheets at least once per week.

If you spend 8 hours a day enjoying the benefits of a great sleep in the bed, that is almost 60 hours a week. If there are two of you sharing the same bed, imaging what get absorbed into those sheets. Would you wear the same clothes for 60 hours? Then why would you sleep in it? Sleeping without sheets will trap all the grime and oils into the mattress. This is difficult to clean and expensive to replace.

Your bedding can be a bacteria and fungal breeding ground and can be the causes of allergy problems in children and adults. Keeping a clean bedding area is not only important, it is hygienic.

Sorry if I scared anyone here, but I have scared myself with the research and it has forced me to take a second look at it. You’re welcome.


You should DEFINITELY clean your sheets if you are sick. Read more here.

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Of all of my hobbies and passions, I love sleep the most! Most people treat sleep as just something you do, but if you make some positive changes in your routine, you can have the a great nights sleep. A great nights sleep will change your life!

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