Are you the type who likes to collect white sheets? Maybe you just like how pure they look. White also evokes a fresh and clean feeling. It is not just a neutral color that can fit any room design, from the Scandinavian theme to the cottage style. It can also make you feel calmer.
There are a couple of other reasons that should outweigh your anxious thoughts over how to keep white sheets white. For one, hotels love pristine white bedding items because they’re easier to wash together. No bleeding of colors to worry about. For another, dirt and stains are quicker to spot on this color. You can act on the problem right away.
Of course, these do not hide the fact that white fabrics are less effective in hiding dirt and stains. That’s why it’s important to wash and clean them regularly. Depending on the material used, you should also observe some best practices on how to wash white sheets. All these and more will be discussed in this guide.
Table of Contents
- Types of Bed Sheets
- 8 Tips on How to Clean White Sheets
Types of Bed Sheets
Bed sheets are mostly classified by the material. But there are other factors to check, like staple length, thread count, and weave. We’re focusing on the material since that’s the main consideration when buying and washing your sheets. Some fabrics can withstand the washing machine, while others can last longer through hand wash.
Cotton sheets are one of the most common types you’ll find. The material, cotton, is naturally soft and breathable. Manufacturers can produce organic covers, which means no chemicals were used in treatment or processing. Options will vary according to staple length, aka the fiber length. Pima cotton is an example of a long staple. It’s less pricey than the extra-long staple Egyptian cotton but just as fine.
You can also select based on weave (percale, sateen, jersey, etc.) and thread count. As for thread count, it’s no longer believed that higher is better. But you have to make sure the horizontal and vertical threads are woven adequately enough to endure washing and wear. A thread count of 250 or above should do.
Linens have become synonymous with sheets. But actually, linen is just one fabric used in making the latter. This textile is derived from the stalks of the flax plant. Also a natural fiber, it is more difficult to produce than cotton. But it is stronger and more absorbent. If you want something that dries faster and promotes airflow, this is the one.
Linen bed sheets do not just keep you cool during the hotter months. Thanks to linen’s heat insulation properties, they can also warm your body during the colder seasons. They provide relief to those who are suffering from skin issues like dermatitis as well.
Polyester is another popular material chosen for its fresh, cool, and lightweight feel. It is a man-made, synthetic fiber that often feels as smooth as silk. However, it can sometimes be prone to static. But it doesn’t give in easily to wrinkling or shrinkage, unlike cotton and linen. It can be turned into microfiber by itself or when blended with nylon.
It’s affordable and easy to clean. Just pay attention to the weave to ensure durability. While it is water-resistant, you need to be careful with grease and oil stains, which can prove difficult to remove.
Sophisticated and luxurious, silk sheets have been known for being full of character. They embody elegance and romance. With origins dating back to around 5,000 years ago, the natural protein fiber called silk is derived from the filament fibers produced by silkworms. Part of its appeal is that it reflects light beautifully.
Silk is strong yet lightweight. However, sleep accessories that use this material tend to be delicate, especially when they encounter bleach. They can also command premium prices, which is not practical for some people. They require a special method of storage, too. Otherwise, they will quickly degrade when exposed to sunlight and oxygen.
The oldest flannel fabrics were made from worsted yarn or carded wool. These days, you get to find flannel made from cotton, cotton blended with man-made fabrics, or wool blended with other fabrics. Its brushed nap makes it unique and ideal for the winter months. Bedding items made of flannel offer warmth and coziness. But unlike fleece sheets, they’re super breathable.
If the flannel is made of 100% cotton, it can have piling. If blended cotton, you can expect shrinkage after the first wash. So instead of fabric conditioner, use ½ cup vinegar during the first wash before hanging your sheets to dry.
Bamboo rayon is a semi-synthetic textile made from mechanically-produced fibers. Bamboo does not produce fibers by itself. So it is dissolved into cellulose, which then becomes the material that is turned into rayon. Bamboo rayon sheets have become a trend because they’re backed by ecologically sustainable processes.
When buying bedding accessories, it’s important to note that bamboo rayon should be labeled as such. Chemicals are used in its manufacture. And a certification from the likes of Oeko-Tex should tell you whether a product based on this material is safe from chemical residues.
Tencel is a brand of lyocell and modal fibers that are said to have natural fiber properties while using environmentally conscious sourcing and manufacturing processes. Tencel is now found in mattresses and mattress accessories. It makes for soft, smooth, and breathable sheets. It also retains its color and absorbs moisture well.
To add, Tencel sheets are antibacterial, bio-based, and biodegradable. The material can be blended with other fabrics, such as cotton, polyester, and silk. Like the other materials here, it also is now being widely adopted in making apparel, activewear, and footwear. Despite its botanic origins, Tencel is still considered synthetic.
8 Tips on How to Clean White Sheets
Now, here are a few things you must do to keep your white sheets white.
1. Always read the Care Instructions
With a basic understanding of the materials used in bedsheets, you should be able to tell which ones are delicate. Meaning, they need more tender loving care. But don’t rely on that knowledge alone. Complement this by reading the manufacturer’s instructions in the product label. It helps when it comes to making decisions like what water temperature to use.
Do this from the very beginning. If you got your sheets today, read the label right away. Some materials need to be washed before use. But they might have accompanying instructions, such as avoiding certain laundry products to let the colors set. Yes, this step includes whites.
2. Use Vinegar
Vinegar, really? You read that right.
If you’ve ever cleaned mattress stains and smell, you’ve probably used vinegar to deal with both issues. It is often mixed with other common household items, such as dishwashing liquid and lemon. Create a solution using 1 cup vinegar, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid. You can pour this into a tub of warm water. Soak the white sheets for at least 30 minutes.
Make sure to use distilled white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. It is less acidic and contains no tannins that can stain the cloth. This will brighten your whites on top of making it soft and removing any odors.
3. Schedule Regular Wash
Regular washing applies when you are not worrying about how to get yellow stains out of white sheets. You can do this whenever you’re scheduled to throw the bedding into the washing machine. You can also do the same if you’re washing the items by hand.
Go on with your usual steps. Wash the sheets in cool to warm water. It would be nice if you could set the cycle to gentle. Dilute ¼ baking soda into your liquid detergent, which should be about half of the recommended amount. Pour the mixture during the wash cycle. Then, add ½ cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle.
4. Perform Intensive Wash
To perform intensive wash, you will need vinegar and the other items mentioned in tip #2. Follow the steps.
If your sheets have this perpetually darker tinge, you can instead try soaking them overnight in a borate solution. You can use Borax or generic sodium borate. Mix 10 ounces of the powder with ½ cup of warm water. Fill a bucket with 5 gallons of cold water. Then, pour your borate mixture into the bucket. Soak the sheets in the solution.
Note: Do not use hot water on cotton.
If the problem is a yellow stain, use a bluing agent to counter the hue. This should turn the yellowed sheets into bright white.
5. Avoid Bleach
If you read the care instructions on the label, you might notice that some have the warning: Do not bleach. This may be due to the fabrics being delicate. As mentioned above, silk is one such material.
But in general, bleach may make matters worse. While it has been known to powerfully remove stains, it contains chlorine that can leave yellow stains on white sheets. Suggested alternatives are vinegar and Borax, which we already discussed above.
6. Sun Dry the Sheets
Immediately after washing, take your sheets out into the sun. Let them dry during the daylight. The sun’s ultraviolet rays have a bleaching effect, which can make your sheets whiter. Sunlight can also kill germs and bacteria. It keeps the bedding items smelling fresh and clean as well.
Plus, completely drying out your sheets is necessary before you store them. This is the most cost-effective and easiest way to keep your white sheets white.
7. Spot Clean As Needed
If you don’t have the time to wash your sheets right away, try spot cleaning. This should be done if the stain or dirt is small. You can use the vinegar solution shared in tip #2. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and then dab it on the stained area. Wait for a few hours to dry.
Once dry, you can add baking soda solution. Dampen the area and leave again for a few hours. The trick here is to let the vinegar and the baking soda solution sit until dry. Also, make sure to vacuum up the remnants of baking soda.
8. Prevent Oil, Grease, and Other Pesky Stains
This last tip has more to do with prevention. As we said earlier, white sheets make stains and spots more visible. But all sheets, no matter the color, are prone to staining. You can make them less prone by preventing your sheets from coming in contact with oil, grease, and other sources of stain.
Bedsheets are already the protective materials you’re using on your mattress and mattress topper. There’s really no better way to protect them than not spilling food, drinks, and other liquids on them.
You can also wash your face and body before sleeping at night. Oil coming from your body may leave a long-lasting stain on the sheets.
Even if you managed to keep them white, some sheets might end up getting ruined in the washing machine. Bleaching may not be the best solution, too. So pay attention to the little details. What you want are white sheets that are not just bright but long-lasting.
Lastly, if you found this article useful, feel free to send it to friends and family. Many people should know how to deal with white sheets—and that it is easy. Also, if you have your own pro-tip to dish out, our comments section is open for your thoughts.