If you don't use a top sheet, you're disgusting

Experts (and some millennials) say it's unsanitary to skip a top sheet

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

The Tweet heard ‘round the world: “Top sheets are archaic. This is just the truth.”

Is it the truth, though? This millennial (me) thinks not. People who don’t use top sheets are on the same plane as those who wear jeans without underwear, or sneakers without socks, or don't wet their toothbrush before brushing: it’s just weird (and kind of gross).


A bed is meant to be made with both a fitted sheet (the elastic-edged sheet that hugs tight to your mattress), and a top sheet (the large, flat sheet that acts as a barrier between you and your comforter). Why? Because sleeping without a top sheet is unsanitary.

Mary Johnson, Tide Principal Scientist at Procter & Gamble, is an expert on skin care and skin biology. She told me that just by existing, each day, "people produce one liter of sweat, 40 grams of sebum (the stuff in your pores that makes your skin oily), 10 grams of salt, and 2 billion skin cells.

gross
Credit: Reviewed
A nice visual depiction of the grime your body emits every day: Sweat, dead skin, salt, and sebum.

And that’s just the top line, she says. "All that stuff that happens below the waist [and] up by your head—skincare products, hair care products, ear wax, snot, drool, lots of really gross stuff—is transferred to your sheets."

Now consider that the average person spends one third of their life in bed, and the average millennial probably spends double that amount of time, avoiding plans, binging Netflix, and scrolling through their Instagram feed (lol jk but not really). Imagine what else is lurking in that gross bed you love to spend so much time in.

A top sheet protects your bed from grime—and it needs to be washed once a week

ringei
Credit: Getty Images
More germs: If your pet sleeps with you, or if you eat in bed.

Sleeping between sheets and washing them frequently is so important. "Think of it as double bagging," says Johnson. "You’ve got that layer of your night clothes, and then you have your top sheet between your comforter."

Johnson says sheets should be washed once a week, "but we know people don’t. How much worse are they at washing their comforter and their quilt?" Most people wash their bulky, cumbersome comforters once every several months, at best. "That is something we’d never recommend for sheets."

Without a layer of a top sheet between your body and a comforter, "that comforter is going to get really, really dirty," Johnson says. If you absolutely hate how a top sheet feels, at the very least, you should be using a duvet to protect your comforter from your grotesque bodily secretions, and it should also be washed at least once a week. Otherwise, your luxurious, cozy comforter becomes—like your pillow—a hotbed for fungus, bacteria, and dirt. Yuck.

Get HC Collection Bed Sheets Set for $20—and use the included top sheet, for the love of all things holy

Video: By the way, your pillows are foul, too

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

What's Your Take?

All Comments
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below