Sleep Better

The dirt that’s lurking on your bedding

30 Nov 202210 min read

With energy prices rising, many people are limiting how often they put their heating on at home. Rather than fire up the boiler, people are layering up and opting for the snuggliest winter essentials to keep them warm - but just how clean are they?

From video calls in Oodies while working from home to burrowing into cosy teddy bear bedding at the end of a long day, we asked two cleaning professionals to reveal how dirty our winter bedding and accessories can get and how to clean them. 

This season’s cosy home essentials

We’ve analysed everything from Google searches to social media coverage in an effort to identify which cold-weather bedding and accessories are soaring in popularity this season:

RankItemAverage Monthly Search VolumeIncrease in Online Demand*TikTok ViewsInstagram Hashtags
1Blanket hoodie**214,000+900%346,500,000 42,900
2Weighted blanket84,000+250%109,200,000106,000
2Knitted blanket2,600+120%2,700,00091,000
4Teddy fleece bedding4,300120%1,300,000500
5Fluffy cushions1,700+300%34,9001,000
6Brushed cotton bedding11,000+80%N/A100

*Based on the increase in Google searches over the past 90 days

**Oodie and blanket hoodie results combined

As Britons invest in the accessories they’ll need to see them through the colder months, we reveal how you can keep them clean and looking their best.

Your blanket hoodie is harbouring dirt, dust, food and sweat

The cousin of the dressing gown, the blanket hoodie is exactly as the name suggests: a wearable blanket, super warm and supersized! 

They’ve surged in popularity in recent years; even in the past 90 days, searches for blanket hoodies have grown 600% while demand for Oodie hooded blankets specifically are up 300%! 

However, you may look at yours differently once you find out what could be lurking in those fibres…

Matt Connelly, founder and CEO of ihateironing, a provider of laundry and dry cleaning services throughout the UK, explains: “Oodies and blanket hoodies are worn around the house, and can quickly pick up dirt and dust from your surroundings. 

“The fluffy garments can easily catch stray food particles and more from couches, seats, and bedding. And for those who sleep in their Oodies, you’re likely to get a sweat build up throughout the night.”

Weekly hand washing and air drying will keep your blanket hoodie clean and snuggly

If that mix of dirt doesn’t sound like something you want to snuggle into, here’s Matt’s advice for how to keep your blanket hoodie clean: 

“Based on the Oodie’s care label, the best way to preserve a blanket hoodie’s softness is to hand wash it in cold water.

“Alternatively, you can also machine wash it on a cold setting without using any harsh detergents. We recommend against tumble drying as it can harm the delicate fabrics - instead, air dry if possible.”

And how often do you need to wash it? Our expert confirms: “It depends on how frequently you’re wearing your Oodie, but we recommend washing it once a week if you’re using it daily, or once every two weeks for more sporadic use.”

Weighted blankets are the secret to staying warm this winter

Designed to feel like a great big hug to calm your mind and relieve stress, weighted blankets have soared in popularity. Over the past 90 days, demand for the blankets is up 250%, while in an average month, there are a staggering 84,000 searches in the UK alone!

Steve Adams, CEO of Mattress Online added: “Demand for weighted blankets always grows over winter, and not just because they make great gifts. 

“Because weighted blankets are heavier and usually thicker than knitted or fleece blankets, they’re more effective at trapping heat, which is especially useful during a time when we’re limiting how often we use our central heating.

“Weighted blankets containing plastic poly pellets trap the most heat, thanks to plastic being an effective insulator. However, many manufacturers are now making the switch to eco-friendly glass beads, which will feel slightly cooler although still warmer than a standard blanket.

“As well as filling, consider the material of your blanket’s cover too. We recommend choosing one with a soft cotton cover thatis warm yet breathable enough to wick away sweat.”

How to wash a weighted blanket searches soar every January as people look for advice on caring for their new Christmas present

According to our research, internet searches for how to wash a weighted blanket peak in January each year. In January 2022, there were 930 searches, up from the 600 average searches the term receives in a typical month.

This suggests that people are receiving a weighted blanket for Christmas and are turning to Google to find out how to care for them.

Mattress Online’s Steve Adam’s comments: “Many weighted blankets now feature removable covers, which you can wash in a standard household washing machine. Other blankets can be washed fully in a washing machine. 

“You should always check whether your specific weighted blanket is suitable for machine washing. Even if the instructions say it can be washed in a standard machine, the weight of the blanket may make it exceed your machine’s weight limit (remember that the blanket will be even heavier when wet!). 

“If your blanket does have a removable cover, you can reduce the time and costs associated with drying a full weighted blanket by only washing the cover. We recommend following the care instructions on your blanket, using a mild detergent and washing the cover separate to other items to avoid affecting its colour.

“Of course, if a deeper clean is required, try spot cleaning affected areas by hand, again with a mild detergent, or hand wash the full blanket if it’s unsuitable for machine washing.” 

‘Fluffy’ teddy bedding is a magnet for dead skin cells, sweat and dandruff, which can cause bacteria to grow

In the past 90 days, searches for ‘teddy bear fleece bedding’ grew by 120%. On average, there are 4,300 Google searches for ‘teddy fleece bedding’ every month, although last November, there were over 12,000 look-ups in a single month!

Many of us have this cosy bedding in our homes, but are we aware of the dirt it harbours? Matt explains:

“As with most bedding, dust and bacteria can build up on teddy fleece bedding if it’s not regularly cleaned. This is usually caused by dead skin cells, sweat, saliva and dandruff, which can lead to bacteria forming and growing.”

Given the ‘fluffy’ nature of teddy bedding, this type of dirt can become lodged into the fibres of covers, sheets and pillowcases more easily than with a standard cotton bedding set.

Wash your teddy bedding once a week inside out to keep it fluffy and soft

So what’s the secret to keeping your ultra-soft bedding clean and fluffy? Matt explains:

“Fleece bedding should be washed once every week to maintain its cleanliness and avoid any dirt build up.

“It should always be washed on a cold setting to preserve its smoothness and not with other harsher fabrics. Other than that, you can easily throw it into your washing machine on a delicate cycle. For duvet covers and pillowcases, washing them inside out can be an extra step to maintaining their softness!”

The £1 product that can stop your brushed cotton bedding from bobbling

If you’ve opted for a cosy brushed cotton bedding set to see you through the colder weather, make sure you invest in a bottle of white vinegar too. As our expert from ihateironing explains, this £1 wonder product is a must for extending the life of your bedding:

“Make sure you preserve your brushed cotton properly from the get-go. We recommend adding ½ cup of white vinegar to the very first wash instead of detergent. This trick helps set your fabric in place and will avoid pilling in the future. 

“As for subsequent washes, you should always wash your bedding at a cool or lukewarm temperature to avoid the colour running or the fabric becoming harsher. When it comes to drying your brushed cotton bedding, you can either tumble dry on a low setting or air dry, if possible, as high heat will deteriorate the fabrics at a faster rate.”

Skipping a bedding wash can create a haven for dust mites and bed bugs

As our research shows, demand for heavy bedding sets, whether teddy fleece or brushed cotton, is on the up. Bedding is notoriously difficult to dry in cold and wet weather, and the thicker the material, the longer it takes.

Don’t be tempted to skip a wash, though. Nicola Rodriguez, cleaning expert at Essex House Dolly, discusses why doing so could invite some unwelcome critters into your bed:

“Dust mites are commonly found in our mattresses and pillows and often collect in our bed sheets due to the fact that it is the easiest place to find dead skin cells. The mites then will poo, which is breathed in by humans and can trigger an allergic reaction.

“Not cleaning your bedsheets can worsen certain skin conditions and allergies. You spend 49-60 hours a week in your bed, with substances building up in the fibres of your bedding. 

“I recommend changing your bedsheets weekly or sooner if they need it. You wouldn't leave your dirty bathwater there and continually get back in it every day, so why get in dirty sheets?” 

Fluffy cushions only need to be washed three times a year

Fluffy cushions are a great way of adding texture to your bedroom and creating the cosy atmosphere you want on a cold winter’s day! Many of us are adding them to our homes this season, with searches for fluffy white cushions up 300% in the past 90 days.

While you might think the fluffier the cushion, the harder it will be to keep clean, they’re actually more low maintenance than you may think, as Matt explains:

“Fluffy cushions are usually made from faux fur, and the shaggy nature of this fabric can catch dust, dirt and debris from around the house.

“However, as opposed to pillowcases, cushion covers don’t need to be washed regularly. We recommend washing them around three times a year to keep them fresh and dust-free.”

So if you’re not washing them on a weekly basis, how do you keep them clean and free from the dirt that can easily build up? It’s time to reach for your vacuum cleaner!

“Frequently vacuuming and dusting your cushions makes sure no dust mites or dirt is caught in their fabrics. We recommend this is done on a weekly basis.

“When it is time to wash them, always remove the covers from the cushions. Avoid washing faux fur covers with other items as that can cause wear and tear to their softness. We recommend washing your items on a cold, delicate cycle with soft laundry detergent, and tumble drying on a low setting.”

Food crumbs and dust can build up in the loops of your knitted blanket

Whether you drape them effortlessly over the edge of your bed or use yours to snuggle up in front of the TV, knitted blankets are a popular winter trend. There are 2,600 Google searches every month for them and in the past 90 days, interest increased by 120%.

“Knitted blankets can be made in a range of fabrics, including different strengths of cotton and wool. Their knitted and woven designs can leave room for dust build up, while food can also get caught in their loops.”

As a result, Matt recommends washing your knitted blankets and throws at least once a month or more, depending on use. He added: “For more frequent use or use outside of the bedroom, such as on the couch or in your living spaces, we suggest washing your knitted blankets every two weeks.”

Washing a knitted blanket? Avoid stain removers to keep it soft

How can you stop your knitted blanket from bobbling, looking out of shape and losing its softness? Here’s what Matt recommends:

“A cold and gentle cycle is ideal for washing knitted blankets to preserve their shape and avoid colours running in the wash. We recommend not using bleach or strong detergents, even if your blanket is white, as the bleach can break down the fibres and cause a tough texture.”

Thinking about revamping your bedroom in time for the cosy season? The right choice of bedding and accessories can transform your space but remember, it’s not all about how it looks. The items you choose have to be practical too.

For advice on refreshing a mattress, take a look at our guide to deep cleaning a mattress. If your mattress or bed is past its best, it may be time to invest in a new one. Take a look at our affordable selection of mattresses and beds online today.


Google Trends data represents the percentage increase in demand for each of our winter home items over the past 90 days. Average number of monthly searches from Ahrefs. 

Items were ranked based on their overall performance across all metrics: number of searches, increase in demand, TikTok views and Instagram posts.

Results were combined for blanket hoodies and Oodies due to their similarities. 

Data correct as of November 2022.