Humans might be the only mammals in the animal kingdom with access to a washing machine and fabric conditioner, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to stop us from still being dirtier than our furry cousins.
This is after a study from North Carolina State University found that human beds are actually harbouring a host of nasty bacteria and debris – including skin cells, oral and faecal bacteria. Chimpanzees, on the other hand, did not.
One thing’s for sure, it puts a whole new meaning to getting dirty between the sheets.
More than one third (35%) of the bacteria that the team found when they swabbed human beds had come from the people themselves. “We found almost none of those microbes in the chimpanzee nests, which was a little surprising,” reveals lead author Megan Thoemmes.
That’s right, the animals famous for throwing around their own poo, are living in cleaner conditions than the rest of us. But are we really to blame? We asked a cross-section of people how often they are changing their sheets.
Lots of people claimed that they were doing it weekly. Including Yessi Bello-Perez, who said: “Once a week, without fail. Usually on a Saturday or Sunday morning. It’s something that’s very much ingrained in me (thanks mum), so I don’t even think about it.
“I find it odd and gross that people can go without changing them for ages. Although I should add: when I was back at uni circa 2010, some people I knew would go a whole three months without changing their bedding (or cleaning their room, ewww).”
Nandita also said she opted for the weekly change. “Same day every week. In a hotter and humid weather place like Mumbai I would change it twice a week.”
Char said: “Sundays are for new bed sheets in my house.”
Unsurprisingly, fewer people were willing to admit they fall at the dirtier end of the scale. Sara McQueen said: “My sheets are about to go out on the line right now! I do it once a fortnight…everyone else is saying once a week, am I gross?”
Zinita confessed: “Probably once a month. Should be doing it more often.”
And a mum, who wanted to stay anonymous, said what we are all really thinking: “I’d love to say I change them every week, but in reality it’s probably monthly…”
How often should we really be changing our sheets? Leading microbiologist Philip Tierno, from New York University, told Business Insider we should be washing duvet covers and pillow cases once a week to avoid illness.
This is because the build-up of unwanted microbes and bacteria becomes “significant” in as little as a week, and up to two weeks of buildup is enough to leave you with a scratchy throat.
However Professor Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said she doesn’t believe leaving your sheets on for a few extra weeks can lead to health problems. She advises people to change them once a week for “aesthetic reasons”.