Q: Jennifer, I have a funny story to share with you. I recently read that you should replace bedding, such as pillows and bedsheets, every two or three years. I didn't believe it — until that day when I went to change the sheets on my bed and saw a big hole on the fitted sheet. That's my favorite set, purchased only about three years ago! Are my older sheets doomed to die soon, too? And what do I do with them? Donate?

A: Thanks for sharing your experience. To be honest, a lot of bedding wears out long before it looks old or gets holes. Pillows really should be replaced every two or three years, perhaps even sooner if you have allergies. Mattresses can last five to 10 years, though recently I had someone write in about a worn-out mattress that was just four years old! For your bedsheets, it really depends on the quality, how often it gets used, and how you take care of it. Fibers naturally break down over time with laundry soap, sunlight, and our own sweat and body oils.

Most importantly, no matter how old your bedding is, when it becomes uncomfortable, consider treating yourself to a new bedding set. It's a great way to freshen up your bedroom, and truly can help you sleep better. To decide how worn your sheets are, look for clues, such as yellowing or discolored areas, pilling, excessive wrinkling, stitching that is unraveling or missing, or thinning spots in the fabric. Hold a sheet in front of a window, and compare how much light gets through it in the middle as compared to the edges. I bet you'll be surprised!

Many sheets can be repurposed into other uses, but unless you call first, please don't burden a charity with a sheet no one can actually use. Visit my blog for other tips on how to freshen up your bedroom and "How to make a beautiful bed!" 

Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, TV personality, and author of the upcoming book "Love Coming Home: Transform Your Environment. Transform Your Life." Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.comor for more design ideas, visit Jennifer's blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.