How often should crib sheets be washed?

Newborn babies spend much of their time sleeping, so having clean bedding is essential for their health and comfort. But how often do crib sheets really need to be washed? Here is a quick look at the recommended washing frequency for crib sheets.

Quick Answer

The general recommendation is to wash crib sheets at least once a week. More frequent washing may be needed for the sheets of newborns or babies prone to spit up and accidents.

How Often to Wash Newborn Crib Sheets

Newborn babies tend to get their sheets dirtier than older babies. Here are some guidelines on newborn crib sheet washing:

  • Wash before first use – New crib sheets should be washed before you put your newborn in the crib for the first time.
  • After nightly use – Consider washing your newborn’s sheets after one or two nights of use. Newborns are prone to having accidents and spitting up on sheets.
  • When visibly soiled – Check sheets at least daily and wash as soon as you notice any spit up, urine, feces or other visible stains.

Frequent sheet washing is recommended during at least the first few months of your baby’s life. After that time, you may be able to go to a less frequent washing routine if your baby is less prone to messes and accidents.

How Often to Wash Sheets for Older Babies and Toddlers

As babies grow into the toddler stage, their sheets may not need washing quite as often. Here are some guidelines:

  • At least weekly – Wash crib sheets about once per week as part of your regular laundry routine.
  • After sickness – Wash sheets after your child has been sick to prevent germ spread.
  • When soiled – Check for visible stains daily and wash when soiled.
  • After night training – Increase washing during potty training when accidents are common.

Many parents find it is easiest to just wash the crib sheets weekly, even after the newborn stage. But some may be able to stretch to every 2 weeks if the sheets are not getting visibly dirty.

Factors that Impact Crib Sheet Cleaning Frequency

How often you need to wash your baby’s sheets can vary based on these factors:

  • Age – Young babies tend to need more frequent washing.
  • Solid foods – When you introduce solids, stain frequency may increase.
  • Night training – Accidents may require more frequent washing.
  • Illness – Wash after sickness to prevent germ spread.
  • Allergies – Frequent washing can reduce allergens.
  • Sensitive skin – Babies with skin sensitivity may need extra washing.
  • Number of sheets – Rotate multiple sets to allow less frequent washing.

Parents should take these factors into account when deciding how often to wash sheets. Erring on the side of more frequent washing is usually best, especially in the newborn phase.

How to Wash Crib Sheets

When it’s time to wash your baby’s crib sheets, follow these tips for best results:

  • Read label instructions – Choose optimal wash settings for the fabric type.
  • Wash in hot water – Use the hottest water recommended for the material.
  • Use a sanitizing cycle – If available on your machine.
  • Use bleach – Add a small amount of bleach to kill germs.
  • Use gentle detergent – Look for baby-safe or sensitive skin formulas.
  • Extra rinse cycle – Clear away residue and allergens.
  • Line or tumble dry – Air drying helps minimize allergens.

Taking these steps helps ensure sheets are fully sanitized and cleaned. Proper washing removes allergens, germs and bacteria.

Bleach for Disinfecting

Adding a small amount of bleach is an effective way to kill germs and bacteria when washing crib sheets. Use about 1/4 cup of standard bleach concentrate (such as Clorox) or 1 to 2 tablespoons of concentrated bleach (like Clorox Ultra).

But bleach can be harsh and degrade fabrics over time. It may also leave behind residue that can irritate babies’ sensitive skin. Only use bleach occasionally when disinfecting is needed after sickness. And always rinse thoroughly.

Vinegar as a Natural Alternative

White vinegar can be used as a natural antibacterial alternative to harsh bleach. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar during the wash cycle. It helps kill germs and leaves no chemical residues.

Vinegar is a great light disinfecting option for routine washing. Use bleach for deeper disinfecting when illness has been present.

How Many Crib Sheets Do You Need?

Having multiple crib sheet sets makes it easier to wash sheets frequently. Recommended numbers of sets:

  • Newborns: 3-4 sets
  • Infants & Toddlers: 2-3 sets

Rotate sets so one is in the crib, one is ready as backup, and the others are awaiting washing. Having multiples allows you to wash sheets when needed, not on a fixed schedule.

Crib Mattress Cleaning

In addition to washing crib sheets frequently, you also need to periodically clean the crib mattress itself. Follow these tips:

  • Clean monthly – Use disinfectant/sanitizing spray and cloth.
  • Spot clean – Treat urine, spit up, etc. right away.
  • Deodorize – Use baking soda between washings.
  • Sanitize – Disinfect with diluted bleach every few months.
  • Air out – Let mattress dry fully before adding sheets.

Proper mattress cleaning and rotation extends its useful life. Make sure any cleaning products used are non-toxic and residue-free.

Using a Mattress Protector

A waterproof crib mattress protector prevents stains and damage. Key benefits include:

  • Protects mattress – From body fluids, spit up, etc.
  • Reduces need to clean mattress – Just wipe down protector.
  • Hypoallergenic options – Reduces allergens.
  • Prevents odors – Blocks odor absorption.
  • Easy to launder – Can wash at same time as sheets.

Mattress protectors are optional but most parents find them useful. Choose breathable vinyl or polyurethane materials to prevent overheating.

Keep Baby Safe and Healthy

Dirty crib sheets are a risk for several reasons:

  • Allergens and irritants can accumulate
  • Bacteria and germs can breed in stains
  • Particles from accidents can cause reactions
  • Odors may disrupt sleep or comfort

Frequent and thorough sheet washing removes these risks and lets baby enjoy a hygienic sleep space.

Create a Manageable Routine

Washing crib sheets often is recommended, but you need a system that works with your schedule. Consider these routine tips:

  • Set a washing schedule that fits your lifestyle.
  • Involve your partner to share the workload.
  • Buy multiple sheet sets to ease rotation.
  • Use a calendar reminder on wash days.
  • Wash sheets along with your own laundry.
  • If needed, outsource to a laundry service.

Create a process that lets you stay on top of this important task without too much stress or disruption to your household.

Know When to Replace Old Sheets

Crib sheets do wear out over time. Watch for these signs it’s time to replace a sheet:

  • Thin, holey fabric
  • Pilling of fabric
  • Off odors even after washing
  • Visible stains that don’t come out
  • Elastic wearing out

Old, worn out sheets aren’t as breathable or comfortable. They’re also harder to get fully clean. Expect to replace sheets about once a year with frequent use.

Pick the Perfect Crib Sheets

All crib sheets are not created equal. Keep these features in mind when shopping:

  • Fabric – 100% cotton is breathable and soft.
  • Weave – Higher thread counts feel more luxurious.
  • Fit – Deep pockets and elastic all around.
  • Size – Standard is 27-28 inches wide.
  • Color – Vibrant patterns or solid colors.
  • Price – Higher cost = higher quality typically.

High-quality sheets make a difference you’ll notice in softness, durability, and ease of washing. Don’t skimp on thread count and fabric.

Cotton Percale

Percale is an extra-tightly woven cotton that produces crisp, cool sheets. The fine weave resists pilling or tearing. Percale offers many benefits:

  • Breathable
  • Comfortable and soft
  • Durable and holds up well to washing
  • Gets softer over time

Percale sheets provide excellent comfort and stand up to frequent washing – ideal for baby bedding.

Jersey Cotton

Jersey cotton has a soft knit texture making it perfect for fitted sheets. Benefits include:

  • Unmatched softness next to baby’s skin
  • Stretchy fabric fits mattresses securely
  • Breathable for temperature regulation

Jersey cotton fitted sheets move with baby as they sleep, reducing irritation and discomfort. Knit cotton works well for sensitive baby skin.


Flannel crib sheets work well in colder months to provide cozy warmth:

  • Soft, fuzzy texture
  • Warm without overheating
  • Made from breathable cotton
  • Helps baby sleep more soundly

Look for lightweight flannel so sheets maintain airflow. Flannel strikes the perfect balance of warmth and breathability.


Washing crib sheets frequently is an essential practice to keep your baby’s sleep space clean and hygienic. For most babies, washing about once a week is recommended. Adjust frequency based on age, health, sleeping habits and other factors. Create a routine that works with your lifestyle.

Choose high quality sheets and wash them properly to maximize cleanliness. With the right washing schedule and products, you can ensure your little one enjoys clean, healthy and odor-free sheets all night long.

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