Dirty secrets and clean sheets…

clothes pegs on a washing line against a blue sky

How often do you put on clean sheets?

clothes pegs on a washing line against a blue skyI need a good weather day so that I can get clean sheets on the bed and the old sheets washed.

There are two reasons for my sudden and unusual enthusiasm for changing the sheets.

Firstly I’ve just bought some lovely new washing powder from Mangle and Wringer. (Yes, I’m excited by washing powder. Note to self: get out more…But in my defence, the packaging is gorgeous, their customer service a delight and I love the fact I’m using something natural, made in the UK by a female British artisan.)

Anyway, I digress. The second motivational force driving me to wash my sheets is a recent discussion with a friend.

She revealed, with no shame whatsoever, that she has managed to get twelve weeks out of her duvet case and eight from her bottom sheet!

My jaw dropped.

How often should one change the sheets? I opt for once a fortnight as we have a very large bed. It is super king-size and was purchased back in the day when we had four children under five and we wanted space for everyone to squish in. Our sheets are huge and changing the duvet cover is like wrestling with a crocodile; staying upright is a challenge as it entangles you in its folds and has the capacity to drag you down.

To get the entire lot washed involves two cycles of the washing machine and then if the weather is not fair, we have wet linen draped on a clothes horse for days or the tumble drier racks up an inordinate number of units on the national grid. Sunny days are therefore a blessing and in any case air-dried bedlinen smells of smug satisfaction.

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For me, household chores are certainly not fun! Washing is a necessary evil and lovely products are a sop to the dullness. I hate hoovering and find dusting deplorable. Our house is decorated by cobwebs à la Miss Havisham; no matter how hard I try to clear them they are immediately replaced. We seem to live with the most active spiders in the South East.

I must admit that my own guilty secret when it comes to cleaning is the triumphant joy I feel from de-hairing the plughole. This appals everyone but with three long-haired females in our household we get more than our share of clogging. When I pull out a large clump and the water flows freely again it almost makes cleaning the bathroom a happy celebration.

I think it’s the futility of the whole thing that gets me down. I wash, clean, scrub and iron and the effects last only a nanosecond. The dust settles, the mould grows…

Yes, we have had mould – most recently in a teenage bedroom which I seldom enter due to the excess of detritus strewn across the floor. The long dark days of winter have meant that son number one has not deigned to open his blind since the clocks changed last October. Black spores have multiplied over the window frame. Fresh instructions about opening both blind and window have been issued and I am resolved to enter the murky gloom myself for more regular checks.

Back in my own bedroom with my crisply dressed bed and sense of calm, I think of my non-linen-washing friend and holding back my judgements remember that she is a divorcee, has been through hell and these days her bed is a lonely sanctuary. Allegedly, standards have been maintained by her simple, but apparently effective, system of rotating the duvet through 360 degrees over the weeks of no washing. Additionally, my friend assures me she is a scrupulously clean individual and certainly, whenever I see her she is always extravagantly scented. Clearly, some people just don’t have the same need for clean sheets.

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One aspect of her laundering habits we failed to discuss is whether she is a pillow dribbler. I will just assume the best and hope that she isn’t. Some things are best left unsaid.


Imogen Jamieson

About Imogen Jamieson

I live in rural Surrey with my family and when not attending to their every whim or holding down my part time job, I enjoy writing. The seemingly insignificant highs and lows of every day are what interest me and I observe small successes with pleasure, empathise with the bad moments and seek subtle humour wherever possible. I also love a good chat over a cup of tea.

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