Not only are fresh sheets better for your health, they are also much more comfortable to sleep in. However, there’s no pointing washing bedsheets if you’re washing them wrong!
Read below for the definitive guide on washing bedding and how to keep your sheets in pristine condition.
1. Check Equipment
2. Read Labels Carefully
3. Pre-Treat Stains
4. Load the Washing Machine
5. Add Cleaning Solutions
6. Choose Washing Machine Settings
7. After Washing
8. New Bedding
1. CHECK EQUIPMENT
Before you throw your sheets in the washing machine, it’s important to make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need readily on hand.
Firstly, you’re going to need detergent. This is what actually cleans your bedding and removes grease and dirt. Detergent is labelled as either bio or non-bio. Bio (biological) detergent contains enzymes that are great at breaking down dirt and removing stains. However, bio detergents can cause skin irritation for those with sensitive skin.
Non-bio (non-biological) detergent doesn’t contain enzymes and instead employs more gentle cleaning ingredients. Non-bio detergents are kinder to sensitive skin and are the best choice for babies or those with allergies. They are not as effective as tackling stains or excessive dirt but are generally capable of cleaning normal amounts of dirt.
Similarly, detergents come in scented or non-scented options. Those with sensitive skin, dermatological conditions or allergies would find they experience less irritation with non-scented detergents.
As well as detergent, make sure you have some fabric softener to add to your wash. It gives your bedsheets a smoother touch and reduces static cling. Fabric softener usually comes in a range of gorgeous scents which will make your clothes smell great.
Finally, keep some stain remover on hand in case it is needed. Stain remover (hopefully) won’t be necessary for every wash of your bed sheets but it is a useful addition to your laundry toolkit for dealing with messy or difficult stains.
Different fabrics may require different types of care. Most fabrics can be washed easily and safely in your home washing machine, however, it’s always best to check the care instructions on the label of your bedsheets just in case.
There may also be varying instructions on which washing machine settings and temperatures are acceptable to use which is useful to know before starting a cycle.
3. PRE-TREAT STAINS
Mess is a natural part of life and there are bound to be stains that occur at some point. That doesn’t mean stains have to be a permanent feature of your bedding! Instead, get to stains as soon as they occur with clever cleaning techniques.
The quicker a stain is dealt with, the easier it will be to remove. When a spill or an accident occurs, remove the affected piece of bedding and pre-treat it with stain remover. Rub the area with cold water before generously applying the stain remover.
For overall grubby looking sheets, a nifty trick is to add around 50ml of lemon juice to the wash cycle. You’ll find sheets look brighter and fresher when they come out of the wash.
Once the stained area has been dealt with, you can put the bedding straight in the washing machine for a regular wash cycle.
4. LOAD THE WASHING MACHINE
Not all washing machines are created equal. They have different sized drums, different weight capabilities and different settings. Putting a washing machine under too much pressure by overfilling it can permanently damage both the washing machine and your bedsheets.
When laundry is packed in too tightly into the washing machine, it is unable to move around properly which prevents it from getting a full clean. Some washing machines are equipped with an agitator which works to keep the laundry moving throughout the wash. Bedding and other laundry items should never be wrapped around the agitator as they can easily be damaged.
Additionally, it is best to wash bedding separately from other laundry. Clothes and smaller items can get caught in pockets of bedding or can cause tangling. Overall, it’s best to get to know your washing machine and its limits so that your bedsheets always get the best possible cleaning.
This is particularly true for towels. Bedding and towels should never be washed together. The rough towel material will wear down the sheets and reduce their life expectancy. Towels are also responsible for causing lint balls that can stick to bedsheets even when dry.
5. ADD CLEANING SOLUTIONS
Your detergent bottle will provide instructions on how much detergent is needed for a single wash cycle. You can add detergent, in the recommended amount, to either the tray of the washing machine or into the drum.
Stick to the specific instructions that are provided by your detergent. Too little detergent may not be enough to adequately clean sheets whereas overusing cleaning solutions can increase the amount of wear to your bedsheets.
Next, add the fabric softener to the washing machine tray. The fabric softener bottle will also have a recommended amount for you to follow.
6. CHOOSE WASHING MACHINE SETTINGS
Unless stated otherwise on the label, bedsheets should be placed in the washing machine on a regular cycle. Slower settings will prevent them from being washed thoroughly whereas heavy duty settings will unnecessarily wear down bed sheets and increase the risk of wrinkling.
When it comes to what water temperature to wash bed sheets, generally, it is best to use the hottest temperature possible. Different fabrics can tolerate different heat so check the label before starting a wash. Bedsheets are exposed to a lot of bodily fluids, dust mites, viruses and bacteria. Hotter water has a better chance of killing most germs and dust mites that may be inhabiting your bedding.
7. AFTER WASHING
The wash cycle may now be complete but there are still some important actions to take before your sheets get back on your bed. Firstly, it’s important your sheets get dried thoroughly. Putting sheets back on the bed when they’re even a little bit damp can lead to mould, discomfort and skin conditions.
The best conditions for drying sheets in are to hang them up on a clothes line and let the sun dry them for you. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant so your sheets will stay fresh and clean outside. It’s also the best option for the environment as it doesn’t require any energy or product.
Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t always shine and hanging sheets up in a downpour will only make them dirty again. If weather isn’t permitting, you can either dry sheets inside or throw them into a tumble dryer.
Drying bedsheets inside your home is the least ideal option. It takes the longest and over time, the water from the sheets can lead to dampness and mould on the walls. However, if it carefully managed and dried in a cool, dry area, dampness can be prevented.
Using a tumble dryer to dry bedsheets is the worst option for the environment as it requires a fair bit of energy. High temperatures can also cause increased wear, wrinkling and shrinking of certain fabrics. However, tumble dryers work fast and provide you with fresh, warm and crisp sheets.
After using a tumble dryer, it’s important to remove the sheets from the drum as soon as possible once dry. Spread the sheets across the bed while they are still warm to prevent them from shrinking.
Once dry, via whichever method, the bed sheets can be put back into rotation. It’s recommended to have at least 2 sets of bedding for each bed so that as one is put in the wash, another set can be used.
For extra comfort and security, many people have 3 sets of bedding for each bed so that there is always a clean set of bedding available in storage in case of emergency accidents or spills.
8. NEW BEDDING
Don’t assume that freshly bought bed sheets are clean! Your new bedsheets have come from various factories and many of the fabrics used are treated with toxic chemicals on the way. To avoid such chemicals, it’s safer to get high quality, environmentally friendly fabrics like Tencel so you have a better idea of the journey it has travelled.
Even when buying safer and toxin free bed sheets, it’s necessary to wash them before they make it to your bed. To remove unwanted chemicals, smells and stiffness from your bedding, a prewash with easy to find, home ingredients is the perfect solution.
For a prewash, simply load the washing machine with the new bed sheets and set to a normal cycle. However, instead of adding detergent and fabric softener, you can add around 230 ml white vinegar and 230 grams of baking soda.
Naturally the prewash should be followed by a normal wash. Once they’ve completed their second cycle, your bedsheets will be ready to fall into.