Laundry & Dry cleaning

The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Clean Bed Sheets

Sliding between freshly laundered bed sheets at the end of a working day is one of life’s little luxuries. But how do you make sure your bedding is always as fresh as possible without wearing out the sheets in months? Read on for our ultimate guide on how to wash bed sheets.

This post is for you if you want to:

  • Keep your bed clean and healthy;
  • Extend the lifespan of your bedding;
  • Enjoy better and more restful sleep.

How often to wash your bed sheets

You shouldn’t sleep in your bed for more than seven nights in a row without washing the bedding. For most people that means washing sheets on a weekly basis. If you travel a lot you can stretch this a bit.

If you’ve been bedridden sweating out the flu, or share your bed with pets you’ll need to wash the sheets more often. Anyone who suffers from asthma or other allergies may find that washing bed sheets more frequently helps to reduce their symptoms.

And accidents happen. If the sheets have been contaminated with anything that might stain them, they should be washed immediately.

Why washing bed sheets on a regular basis is important

If you’re one of the people who gets a healthy amount of sleep, you spend around a third of your life in your bed. Over the course of your nights, bed sheets accumulate:

  • Dead skin cells;
  • Body oils;
  • Sweat;
  • Viruses and bacteria;
  • Live dust mites, dead dust mites and dust mite faecal matter.

While dead skin cells and sweat certainly don’t sound attractive, it’s the dust mites and their byproducts that cause the most problems. Dust mites live exclusively on dead skin cells so they thrive in beds and bedding. Almost all households have them and if unchecked their numbers can reach many thousands.

Dust mites don’t bite but sensitive individuals may develop skin rashes and mites are a major trigger for asthma and other allergic reactions. Washing bed sheets regularly helps to keep dust mite numbers under control.

Should you wash new bedding?

Yes, you should! When you unpack sheets they’ll still contain some traces of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Washing the sheets will soften them up and remove those nasty chemicals. Some people say that standard detergents can lock the chemicals in, so suggest that the first wash should be done using baking soda or borax with a cup of white vinegar added to the rinse cycle.

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How to wash bed sheets properly

  1. Check the label – For any specific care instructions, if there are any, follow them. Generally speaking, the best temperature to wash bedding is between 30 to 40 degrees Celsius.
  2. Know your washing machine – You need to know what the maximum load is. Overloading the machine strains the motor and sheets get cleaner if they have plenty of room to move around in the washer.
  3. What setting do you wash bed sheets on – Some machines have a special setting for sheets. If yours does, then use it. Otherwise use a normal setting unless the care label on your sheets specifies otherwise.
  4. Wash sheets separately from another laundry – Delicate linens can be damaged by mixing them with rougher textured clothing.
  5. Don’t overdo the detergent – Too much detergent can damage fibres, resulting in bedding wearing out more quickly. Save the stain removers for occasions when you need them. Check your machine and detergent instructions to see how much to use for your bedding.

Remove the stains from your bedding

Different stains require different treatments, using the right approach maximises the chance of completely removing the offending mark. As a general rule, you want to use the gentlest solution that will be effective so that you can get rid of the marks without damaging the fabric. It’s always best to tackle a stain as soon as you see it.

Blood – Start with cold water, heat sets bloodstains. Spot clean the affected area. If the stain is fresh this might be sufficient. If not, dab the area with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water. Diluted hydrogen peroxide can also be effective but may damage delicate fibers.

Sweat, urine or body oils – If the area is small, spot clean with a vinegar/water mix. If larger areas of the linen are marked soak the sheet in baking soda or water with a cup of vinegar or a shop-bought enzyme-based stain remover. Since urine is tricky, consider reading on post on how to clean wee off a mattress.

Special fabrics – Need specialist stain removers so if you have silk or satin sheets, use stain removers produced for those fabrics.

Prevention is better than cure – Showering before bed reduces the amount of body oil the sheets are exposed to. Limiting drinks before bedtime can help reduce the risks of children having accidents.

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How to wash bed sheets with different fabrics

Certain fabrics need special care. Follow care labels if you have them, otherwise here are some guidelines for different materials.

Silk and satinWashing clothes by hand is the preferred method for delicate fabrics such as silk and satin, especially for the first few washes. If you do use the washing machine, use a gentle or hand-wash cycle. Use cold water and a detergent recommended for delicate fabrics. Avoid the use of bleach or other harsh detergents.

Linen – Use a natural detergent and a cool wash setting in your washing machine. Linen is similar to cotton but the fibres are more delicate so it needs gentle treatment.

Bamboo – Use a cool or cold wash and a gentle detergent. Wash bamboo sheets in a dedicated wash so they don’t come into contact with zippers or buttons on other laundry which could damage the delicate fibres.

How to dry bed sheets

Most sheets can be dried by air or in a tumble dryer. Whichever method you use, it’s important to remove sheets from the washer as soon as the cycle is finished to avoid them getting mouldy or wrinkled. Shake the sheets out when you remove them as this also helps to get rid of creases.

Choose the right settings on your dryer

Silk or satin sheets should be air-dried if possible, if you have to tumble dry them use a no heat setting. Linen and bamboo sheets should be dried on a low heat setting, cotton or mixed fabric sheets can cope with medium heat unless the care label states otherwise. Remove sheets from the dryer as soon as they’re done to reduce creasing.

Drying bedding outdoors

Air drying sheets on the line is the best option whenever possible. Sunlight kills bacteria so drying laundry outdoors acts like a natural disinfectant. Hanging white sheets in direct sunlight helps to keep them bright too. Coloured sheets are best dried in a shady spot to prevent colour from fading. Hang sheets at the corners not in the middle to reduce wind damage.

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Extra care for clean and fresh bedding

There are a few tricks to ensure that sheets don’t get musty while being stored.

Dry thoroughly before folding – Ironing helps to get sheets bone dry and the heat from an iron will sterilise the sheets. Check care labels to make sure you’re not going to damage the sheet with overly hot ironing.

Storage – Whether you use a linen closet, airing cupboard or store sheets in a drawer make sure they’re not too tightly packed. Ventilation helps keep sheets smelling fresh.

Use lavender – Or a dryer sheet slipped between the sheets to help them smell fresh and clean.

Storing matched bedding – Keep the sheets, duvet and any extra pillowcases in one of the pillowcases and you’ll never have to hunt through the cupboard to make up the set.

Common mistakes when washing sheets

There are a few things you should avoid doing when washing or drying your bedding.

Overloading the washing machine

Overloading a washing machine is bad for the sheets as they won’t get as clean as they should if they don’t have room to move, and scrunched up sheets are more likely to get damaged in the washing machine. It also strains the motor, so it’s bad for the washing machine.

Using the wrong settings

It might seem tempting to use the setting for heavy-duty washing. After all, your sheets are bulky. But bulky isn’t the same as dirty. Save the more vigorous cycles for workwear or sports clothes and stick to normal or gentle cycles for bedding. Using a heavy-duty setting can cause creasing and wrinkling and damage fibres so the sheets wear out more quickly.

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Drying the sheets for too long

Overdrying bedding in a tumble dryer increases creases, makes sheets harder to iron and is likely to cause shrinkage and pilling. You’ll also wear out the bedding more quickly by regular overdrying.

Drying bed sheets and towels together

It’s tempting because they’re often put in the laundry basket at the same time, but it’s best not to dry sheets and towels in the same load. Towels are generally thicker so take longer to dry. Sheets are likely to sit in the tumble dryer long after they’re ready to be removed because the machine is detecting that the towels aren’t dry. This is an inefficient way to use the dryer and it’s bad for the sheets too.

Get professional help for your laundry

If you want your bed sheets professionally cleaned, Fantastic Services is here to help with laundry service and dry cleaning services. From picking up the laundry to its delivery to your doorstep within 24 hours, you can rely on the experienced professionals to take care of everything.

Takeaways

  • Sheets should be washed weekly, more often if you suffer from asthma or have spent extra time in bed due to illness
  • To extend the life of bedding use the lowest temperatures and most gentle detergents and washing cycle that will get the sheets clean
  • Treat stains as promptly as possible, using the least harsh method that will remove the offending substance

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Has reading this article changed how you’ll clean your bed sheets in future? Tell us what you’ve learned!

Or…if you have any tips of your own on caring for linens, please, share them!

Image Source: Shutterstock / Elizaveta Galitckaia

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