Dirty laundry on the floor and paper plates full of half-eaten food are both common sights in college dorm rooms. It’s no shocker to parents who constantly scolded their children to “Clean your room!” while they were growing up that most college students aren’t exactly neat freaks, but one of the more disgusting habits that many young adults acquire after they move out is never washing their sheets. Thankfully (?) disposable sheets are now on the market.
According to The Wall Street Journal, most people change their sheets on a weekly basis yet many leave the same sheets on their bed for three weeks, a month, or even longer. “Younger people seem to leave their sheets on the bed longer,” says Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., the director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
Many people have the misconception that if you shower before you hit the sheets, your body is clean and therefore your sheets are, too. However, dust mites feed on human skin cells that we all shed. Mites—and their feces—accumulate along with dust, lint, pollen, and a long list of other “dirty” things that you probably don’t want to imagine sharing your bed with.
Let’s not forget bodily secretions. “One person can perspire as much as a liter in a night—even more if you have a lot of covers,” Dr. Tierno explains. (And to put it nicely, sweat isn’t the only bodily fluid that sexually adventurous college students may get on their sheets.)
Kirsten Lambert and Joan Ripple, friends who have had children in college since 2009, realized that most college students just don’t care whether or not their sheets are a disgusting breeding ground for bacteria. “We met when our kids started dating," Lambert told The Boston Globe. “Then they went off to college, and we found that they basically never washed their sheets.”
The duo joked about sending their children the rolls of paper that are used on exam tables in doctors’ offices, and decided to come up with a more comfortable alternative. Lambert and Ripple, who have told the media that many parents throw their college students’ sheets away each semester, are the entrepreneurs behind bedsox laundry-free linens.
“Basically, what it boils down to is, college students are lazy. They’d like to have clean sheets, but their moms aren’t there to wash them,” Lambert told USA Today. The disposable sheets are intended to last roughly one month, after which they start to look worn. Made from Tencel, a fiber derived from Eucalyptus trees, bedsox can be thrown in the trash or a compost bin when they are dirty and worn.
College students at universities across the country were asked to test bedsox and results were positive. Comments ranged from “I like how comfortable they were and you can just throw them away” to “very comfortable and made my bed feel very clean.”
Although bedsox are being touted as environmentally-friendly compostable sheets, The Boston Globe informs readers that the Environmental Protection Agency explains it takes about 150 gallons of water to make a pound of Tencel fiber while traditional cotton sheets can be manufactured with as little as 10 gallons of water per pound. In short, bedsox are most likely a fresh idea that can come in handy in a pinch, yet college students might be better off heading down to the laundry room once a month.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.