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How To Wash Bed Sheets

Posted by Nicholas Crusie on

Unless you still live with your parents or are lucky enough to have a partner who does the laundry all the time, you already go through the motions of washing your bed sheets. And you've probably been doing it just fine, right? Washing bed sheets isn't rocket science. Anyone can throw everything in, hit the button, and then take it out an hour later. 

We realized that most of us were never given a formal lesson on how to do laundry. (Why don't they teach us these things in school?). So, we thought it would be a good idea to give everyone a refresher. 

Hopefully you already know and practice many of the things that we'll go over. But we also hope you'll pick up some tips, tricks, and knowledge that will help you reach that "master" level of doing laundry. 


Knowing how to wash bed sheets, and wash them properly, has many benefits:

  • Your sheets will come out as clean as they possibly can. 
  • Your skin will be happier spending 6-10 hours a night between properly cleaned sheets.
  • Your sheets will last for longer.
  • Clean sheets promote general well being.
  • You'll sleep better at night. 

It seems too obvious to be saying that it's important to have clean bed sheets. But even though we all know this, washing the sheets still tends to not be done properly or thoroughly. 

Think about another important home task. Think about washing the dishes.

  • Would you hurry through and do a rushed job?
  • Would you not pay attention to detail because it will probably still "look clean" when it comes out? 
  • Would you put off or avoid washing the dishes just because it isn't fun?

You probably answered no to all of these questions. Of course, you wouldn't neglect dishes the way bed sheets get neglected. But bed sheets are just as important, and they deserve to be cleaned and cared for just as carefully as you do the dishes. 

How to Wash Bed Sheets

We're going to go through the entire process of washing your bed sheets starting with the preparation, followed by the washing, and then the drying.

Preparation

There are three essential products for washing sheets: detergent, stain treatment, and dryer sheets.

Detergents come in liquid and powder forms. See the info below for the pros and cons of each and decide which would work best for you. 

Liquid Detergent

Pros:

  • More convenient to use
  • Will dissolve in any water temperature 
  • Can be used to pretreat stains 

Cons:

  • Easy to over-pour 
  • Using too much can result in spots and stains 
  • Usually more expensive

Powder Detergent 

Pros:

  • Longer shelf life than liquid detergent 
  • Usually comes in more eco-friendly packaging 
  • Can be used to pretreat stains

Cons:

  • Doesn't dissolve easily/thoroughly in cold water
  • Can be messier to use

Stain treatment products can be really helpful (and sometimes life savers) in removing tough stains. Both liquid and powder detergent can be used as a pretreatment. We recommend using liquid detergent because it will be easier to simply throw the article into the machine after treatment without making a mess. If you don't want to go out and buy a stain remover, some common household products that can also act as a stain treatment are vinegar, dish soap, and acetone

Pretreat any stains a few hours before doing the laundry. The longer you soak the stain, the more of a chance the treatment product will have to soak in and dissolve the stain. 

Dryer sheets help prevent the build-up of static electricity within the machine. Dryer sheets also act as fabric softeners, prevent clothes from gathering lint, and can add a nice scent to your sheets. 

When washing sheets, you'll want to do sheets as their own load separate from clothing or anything else. You should also be separating lights from darks to ensure that all the colors are staying pure and vibrant. 

Read any labels or special care instructions that your sheets may have. Tide created a really great guide to help you navigate laundry symbols that can sometimes be unclear (and sometimes just look like mad scientist symbols).

Washing

Washing sheets at the highest temperature available will kill the most bacteria and germs. Most laundry machines' "hot" setting is between 130 and 150 and degrees Fahrenheit; 140 degrees Fahrenheit is the required temperature to kill bacteria. Hot water also does the most thorough job at removing dust.  

Just be sure to check the fabric labels beforehand in order to ensure the article can tolerate the hot water. 

Different wash cycles will use different water temperatures, agitation speeds, and cycle times. Your machine's "normal" or "standard" setting is sufficient for sheets. If your bed sheets are particularly high-end or delicate, you may want to use the "delicate" setting. 

New sheets should always be washed on their own before their first use. This will ensure that the colors set and don't run onto other items in the wash as well, and will also clean off any light product coating that may have been applied during the manufacturing process. 

Drying 

Make sure that you move the sheets from the washer to the dryer as soon as they're done. Leaving damp towels in the washer is like a warm invitation for the mildew smell and can foster bacterial growth. 

Just like with the washer, a higher dryer temperature will ensure that any germs or bacteria on your sheets are killed. However, if your sheets are high-end, you may want to stick with a medium temperature setting to protect any delicate fabrics. 

Folding your sheets and putting them where they belong right away will help them stay dust and wrinkle free. We suggest keeping sheet sets stocked together so you can easily grab a new set when you take off the old one for the laundry. It's also a good idea to have 2-3 sets of bed sheets so you can change them frequently and not have to wait for them to come back from the laundry. 

Avoid These Common Washing Mistakes

Overloading the machines

It may be tempting to squish everything into one load instead of spreading it out over two (kind of like trying to be superman and carry all the groceries in from the car in one trip). However, a load that is too full will diminish the efficiency of the load. If the washer is too full, the water will not be able to properly rinse out the soap, leaving a residue on your sheets that will make them lose their softness and become crusty. If the dryer is too full, the articles inside may not be able to thoroughly dry. If damp sheets are put away before they are properly dried, they will develop a smell and could potentially start growing bacteria. 

Not paying attention to machine settings

Don't confuse the "heavy-duty" and "full load" settings - they are different. "Heavy-duty" is intended for garments that get really dirty, like gym clothes or sweaters. Unless the sheets are especially soiled, you should be using the "normal" or "regular" setting.

Mixing sheets and towels

While sheets and towels may seem to be "the same kind of thing," they aren't, and they should not be washed or dried together. Towels are much thicker and heavier than sheets. Towels and sheets also serve very different purposes and will be a different type of dirty. Towels will need a more rigorous setting in the washer as well as longer time in the dryer. 

Over drying 

Over drying sheets can lead to shrinkage. Especially in the case of bed sheets, shrinkage could mean that your fitted sheet will no longer fit and your flat sheets may no longer be able to cover your toes. (No one likes cold toes at night). 

The Difference is in the Details

You probably already "knew how to do laundry," but now you really know.

For some reason, school teaches us that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but not how to do taxes or the laundry (sigh). Well, here you have it. This is how you wash bed sheets and wash them properly. The difference is in the details!

Sources:

https://www.mollymaid.com/cleaning-tips/schedules-charts-and-checklists/stain-removal-guide/

https://www.cleancult.com/blog/what-do-dryer-sheets-do/

https://tide.com/en-us/how-to-wash-clothes/how-to-do-laundry/how-to-read-laundry-symbols



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