Housework:  PracticalDad Notes on Bedclothing

There’s nothing exciting or sexy about it, but changing the bedsheets is one of the things that simply has to happen.  And even though the kids are only sleeping, their bodies continue to slough off skin and sweat so that the bedding can become disgusting in short order.

The Basics

Understand first that there are different sizes of sheets depending on the size of the mattress.  Since most households are a mix of bed sizes, one of the tasks is going to be keeping the various combinations separate so that you don’t waste time putting the sheets on, just to find that they don’t fit and have to be refolded.

  • Some families might opt to go with color coding, i.e. Junior gets the red shaded bedclothing and Juniorette gets the green shaded sheets.
  • Some families – this included – have the sheets folded in the linen closet by size.  The twin bed clothing is always on the far right for example.
  • Remember that in bedclothing sizes, "twin" size is the same as "single".  The rest – Double, Queen, King – are straight forward.
  • If you’re stuck, you can find the size on the tag attached to the sheet.

How Many Should I Keep and How Often Should I Change Them?

Most households have at least two sets of sheets per each bed, but for the younger kids, you might want to consider having a third set available in the event of illness.  When a smaller child has a stomach virus or flu, you can easily blow through two sets of sheets in an evening; they’re going to be vomiting in the bed before they can make it to a bowl, even if you’re at their side.  After cleaning the child, you have to get the sheets changed and you probably aren’t going to have the 60+ minutes required to wash and dry a load of sheets.

In our household, we had three cribsheets.  It first appeared as overkill, but there were moments when we were grateful for them.

As to changing, both my wife and I grew up in households where the bedsheets were changed weekly and we’ve stayed with that.  With kids however, I do keep a closer eye on how things look and have changed them more often if necessary.  With toddlers, you have to contend with bed-wetting events and even when they go through puberty, there are more instances of pre-menstrual and menstrual spotting, excessive perspiration and nocturnal emissions.  Don’t expect the kids to say anything – they might be embarrassed or simply don’t care.

Mattress Padding

Because kids are a stewpot of bodily juices – sometimes with the lid missing – you have to have a mattress pad under the sheets to help protect the mattress.  You can wash sheets, but you can’t wash a mattress, so you do what you can to protect it.  They’re thicker and heavier, so you might find yourself taking it to the laundromat to throw into a larger machine if your machine isn’t large enough.  How often you wash the mattress pads are open to debate, but again, I take the age of the kids into account and have also applied the smell test to see if they require washing.

You can’t wash a mattress.  What you can do however, is periodically leave the bedclothing off so that it airs out; some will also choose to spray it with a disinfectant spray to kill any germs.  If you do that however, leave the other bedclothing off for a short while to let it continue to air out.


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