Dirty Laundry Habits on American College Campuses

Maybe it’s the inconvenience of using coin-operated washing machines down in the basement of the dorm. Or perhaps it’s the fact that mom isn’t around to do the laundry. Whatever the reason, the survey we conducted along with our scientific research of college student pillows finds that most of those students probably would earn poor grades for keeping their bedding clean.

Almost half of students (43 percent) report they only change their bed sheets once per month, and three percent admit they never change their sheets. Researchers found an even worse story regarding mattress pads: 43 percent of college students say they wash their mattress pads only every couple of years and another 43 percent said they never wash their mattress pads.

“The first temptation is to say ‘Gross!’” said Dan Schecter, vice president of Consumer Products at Carpenter Co. and creator of SleepBetter.org. “Good bedding hygiene is not just an aesthetic issue; it’s a matter of health and safety.”

Schecter notes that SleepBetter.org hired an independent scientific laboratory to test pillows and mattress pads from current college students in 25 states. The recently-released report Sleepbetter.org Investigates: Fungus Among Us reveals the following discoveries:

On average, the pillows in the study contained 350,000 potential live bacteria colonies and 91,000 potential live yeast and mold colonies

  • Mattress pads in the study, on average, contained two million potential bacteria colonies and 330,000 yeast and mold colonies
  • Men’s pillows were statistically almost twice as microbe-infested as women’s

“Maybe this isn’t an issue for a super-healthy 20-year-old,” said Schecter. “But anyone with sinusitis, chronic allergies, an immune deficiency, asthma or other breathing problems should take note of these results and should change and clean their bedding more often.”

To look at an overview of all of the surveys and research conducted by SleepBetter.org, visit our Sleep Research page.