washing machine for allergiesDPA DEUTSCHE PRESS-AGENTUR/DPA/Press Association Images

An alarming new study has revealed that almost one in four people fail to change their sheets often enough. A combination of laziness and the desire to save cash on laundry means that we're languishing in our sheets for longer.

But just what is this penny pinching costing us?


Dirty sheets

The research, for Dunelm Mill, found that only 40% of us change our sheets every week, and some 36% so it every two weeks - which means that almost a quarter fall short of the standards recommended by the experts.

Unfortunately, 17% say they change the sheets just once a month. And they're not the worst offenders. Astonishingly, 1% only change their sheets once a year, and 3% do it so irregularly that they can't remember.

The research also exposed the Britain's cleanest regions, with the Scottish and those from the North West found to be the people with the best sheet-changing habits, as 50% and 51% respectively change their sheets on a weekly basis or more frequently. By comparison people in the South East fell short of the mark, where just 41% claimed the same.

Why?

The reason in many cases is down purely to not having the time or inclination. A survey by Sheila's Wheels back in 2011 said this was the most common explanation. It's just one more thing to think about at the end of the day, and many people hardly have the energy to climb into bed, let alone launder the sheets.

For others it may be an effort at energy-saving. This was the second most common excuse given in the 2011 survey. Certainly if there are four beds in the household, the washing and drying involved can cost £1.50 or more, so cutting back can seem a wise move. Certainly if you tumble dry and then iron your sheets, you can save a reasonable sum by cutting back from washing once a week to once a fortnight.

Health

However, if you cut back any more than this the costs can be serious, especially to your health. Dr Adam Fox, a paediatric allergist in London warned that it could lead to all sots of health problems. He said: "Having good bedroom hygiene when it comes to changing your sheets is about more far than just freshening up your linen. We spend about a third of our lives asleep and this is reflected in the debris that we leave between the sheets. Our bodies shed millions of skin cells each day, many of which rub off in our sleep and are deposited in our beds. In addition to skin cells, our bodies also secrete fluids, sweat and oils during a long nights sleep."

"Whilst unsavoury in themselves, these deposits mostly pose a problem as they are all deliciously appealing for dust mites. Dust mites in themselves are quite harmless, however the droppings of these microscopic creatures are laden with allergens which can cause health complications. When inhaled, these allergens can provoke asthma and rhinitis and may also worsen eczema."

"In order to reduce the possible problems caused by dust mites the professional recommendation is that people with dust mite allergies should be taking a number of measures to reduce allergen exposure. Those who suffer particularly badly should consider investing in dust mite proof bedding and we should all be making it a priority to wash our sheets on a one to two weekly basis at 60 degrees. It may seem like a bit of a chore but taking these precautions helps to protect against the health complications which may be caused or worsened by the unwanted dust mites which share our sheets"