About Sharing Your Dirty Laundry

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I like reading polls in magazine about how often people do the most ordinary things. How many hours a day do you watch television? How many times have you ever lied to your boss? How often do you and your spouse make love?

The other day, a woman in my book club confessed that she only changed her bath towels about once a week. (Don’t ask how we started talking about this one!) She maintained that she was clean coming out of the shower and drying off didn’t seem to mandate clean towels so often. She hung them immediately and they didn’t get smelly.

This got us started on what I believed was a more significant discussion about changing the sheets (eventually we did start talking about the book). Most of the women in our group changed the bed linens every week. A few every other week. One woman changed the bedding every three or four days. “I like fresh sheets,” she explained.

We agreed that although sleeping in crisp, clean bedding was something we all enjoyed, the act of stripping beds, stuffing new pillowcases on fluffy pillows and fitting those pesky fitted sheets on the mattress was a chore. Some of us had cleaning help to perform this function. Oddly, they were not all in the once-a-week camp.

I said that every other week was about right – if I remembered. But I admitted that three weeks was more likely. I didn’t share that there was an occasional lapse into longer.

My explanation was similar to the towel defense. My husband and I showered at night. Clean bodies hit the sheets. We wore pajamas which were also frequently laundered. It seemed excessive to wash sheets every week. Not to mention ecologically unsound.

Besides, my husband and I sometimes fell asleep on the couch while watching television. And we didn’t feel compelled to wash the upholstery, did we?

When I got home, I went online to check out if I were the only one who was so lax. Apparently there are real debates on the practice.

A poll on mothering.com revealed that

· 32% changed their sheets weekly

· 30% changed their sheets every other week

· 30% changed their sheets monthly

That left 8% who were “other” but it wasn’t revealed whether this included the more fastidious or the more slovenly extremes.

Notice that the poll was taken on a “mothering” website. Ergo, there were no men or college students who were answering the question. Some college students might even answer with a question: Sheets? What sheets?

There was a video of a doctor who discussed dust mites and body oils with some seriousness. He urged that bedding be changed weekly. He also suggested washing the mattress pad weekly.

Well, that’s not going to happen. Probably he was not the one to follow this sage advice, but passed these instructions down to a wife who passed them on to the cleaning help.


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