A How-To Guide to Washing Bed Sheets

A How-To Guide to Washing Bed Sheets

You probably don’t put too much thought into washing your bedsheets, but it turns out that it’s actually something of an art form. The right technique centers not just around using the appropriate settings, but also taking into account factors like fabrics and drying methods.

What do those have to do with simply tossing your sheets in the washer every week? When you wash your bedding properly, you can trust that each piece will keep its integrity and remain in great condition for years to come. Here’s how to wash bed sheets the right way.

Consider the Basics

Just like you learned when you were growing up, the basics still matter. There’s no getting around the simple tenets of general bedding care. At a bare minimum, make sure to read the labels carefully to ensure that you aren’t dealing with a fabric that might require something more specific than average care. Most bed sheets are perfectly safe to toss into the washing machine, but it’s best to err on the side of caution.

It’s also standard to use the hottest possible water temperature setting to ensure that the machine effectively kills germs and bacteria. Some sheets may specify otherwise, but in general, a product made with cotton is safe to wash in hot water. The hotter the water, the cleaner and more allergen-free your sheets! Finally, make sure that you separate your bedding items by color. Don’t toss the bright pink pillowcases in with the crisp white sheets, or you risk the darker color bleeding on the lighter and ruining its finish.

Choose a Cycle

Many modern washing machines have specific cycles dedicated to washing sheets. If that’s not the case with your device, you can simply select the “normal” option. “Casual” is fine, too, but avoid “heavy-duty,” since that leads to unnecessary over-agitation. Moving the sheets around too vigorously can cause them to tangle and develop unsightly wrinkles that are a pain to eliminate.

Before you put them in the machine, though, check for stains. You only need to pre-treat sheets that actually have marks on them. That could be anything from a pet stain to a makeup stain. Stain remover can help eliminate some of the more stubborn blemishes that otherwise take away from the appearance of your sheets.

Focus on Frequency

At a bare minimum, washing bed sheets is a chore that should be done at least once every couple of weeks. If you can commit to a weekly habit, that’s even better. One way around it if you’re concerned about time constraints is to invest in at least one or two additional sets of quality sheets. That way, you can simply swap them out when it’s time to wash your current set.

If you’re convinced that you might be able to stretch it out for an extra couple of weeks, talk yourself out of it if possible! You sleep on your sheets every night. Just as you wouldn’t wear the same pair of women’s pajamas without washing them frequently, you shouldn’t commit to anything less for your bedding.

Watch the Detergent

You might feel like you’re doing a serious deep clean if you add a little bit of extra soap to the load, but in actuality overdoing it could spell trouble for your bedding. If there’s too much, it might not rinse out properly. That will leave your soft, touchable sheets feeling stiff and crisp to the touch. If there’s a recommended guideline, follow that or use just a little bit less. You can even pour in a cup of white vinegar during a rinse cycle to remove any lingering detergent if you’re concerned.

Be mindful of the type of detergent that you use, too. Bedsheets are a little bit like women’s jeans in that they’re best laundered in a mild, gentle product. Avoid using bleaching products, or anything that promises to “brighten” the finish. So long as you follow basic washing techniques, your sheets won’t develop a lackluster finish.

Dry Them Properly

Drying sheets properly is just as important as washing them the right way. To protect them from losing their integrity in the dryer, use a low or medium heat setting. That will prevent them from becoming too dry and from weakening the resilience of the fibers. Remove the sheets from the dryer as soon as they’re done to avoid excessive exposure to heat.

In a best-case scenario, you might try to dry your sheets on a clothesline, or take them out of the dryer before they’re completely dry and allow them to hang in the sunlight to prevent wrinkles. Another option? Dry your sheets with your bath towels! This creates some balance in the dryer because the towels soak up much of the sheets’ moisture. Yes, the towels will probably still be wet when the cycle ends, but your sheets will be ready to fold and place in the linen closet.


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