Washing, drying, and storing your sheets correctly will help preserve the fabric over time. Use these tips to learn how to wash bedsheets the right way.
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Climbing into a bed made up with clean, fresh-smelling sheets is a gloriously cozy feeling. And although washing bedsheets might seem like a straightforward laundry task, achieving crisp, wrinkle-free results requires a bit of care. By following a few essential tips, you can extend the lifespan of your sheets and ensure the best clean with every wash.

First, it's important to know what your sheets are made of. Look at the care label or packaging to identify the fabric content of your sheets. The most likely materials are cotton, Egyptian cotton, or a cotton-polyester blend, although sheets can also be made of bamboo, linen, or silk. Review the manufacturer's care recommendations for any special instructions. Keep in mind that cotton-polyester blends will generally come out of the dryer less wrinkled than all-cotton sheets, and bamboo, linen, and silk sheets will likely need special care. Use our guide below to learn how to wash sheets properly to keep your bedding soft and silky for years to come.

minimalist bedroom striped bedding blue indigo pillows modern artwork
Credit: Edmund Barr

How to Wash Sheets

The best way to wash sheets is to launder them separately from towels or other clothing. This gives the sheets more room to circulate in the water, which means they'll get cleaner. Washing bedsheets alone also prevents damage caused by zippers and other fasteners, and it reduces the amount of pilling that can happen over time. If your washing machine features a center agitator, loosely form each sheet into a ball before dropping it into the tub. This strategy will reduce the damage that can be caused by sheets coming into contact with the agitator.

Always pre-treat stains before laundering sheets. Avoid using bleach on bed linens as it can damage the fabric. If you need to brighten white sheets, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the wash water instead of bleach. Use a mild detergent for cotton and cotton-polyester-blend sheets. Special fabrics such as linen and silk might require a specialized detergent, so check the care label before washing.

Wash the sheets on a gentle cycle using cool or lukewarm water. Unless you need to sanitize the sheets due to allergies or after an illness, washing sheets in hot water is usually not necessary. Remove the sheets as soon as the cycle is over to reduce wrinkles. Shaking the sheets out before placing them in the dryer can also reduce wrinkles.

When possible, dry sheets on an outside clothesline but out of direct sunlight. For machine-drying, use a low heat setting to minimize damage from high temperatures. After the cycle finishes, remove the sheets from the dryer as soon as possible and fold them, smoothing wrinkles with your hands. If wrinkles have set, dry the sheets for an additional five minutes with a damp towel tossed into the mix to add moisture. Avoid ironing the sheets if possible because the high heat can damage the fibers.

wooden wall bedroom gray, black and white accents
Credit: John Bessler

Give special fabrics the right care by following these instructions for washing bedsheets.

How to Wash Silk Sheets

Silk is strong but needs special laundering to keep its fibers intact. Hand-washing is the preferred method of laundering, at least for the first several washings. Don't wring silk sheets. Instead, blot them with a towel. If washing in a machine, choose a delicate or hand-wash cycle in cool water, using Woolite detergent ($5, Target) or any special soap recommended by the manufacturer. Hang the sheets on an outside line out of direct sun, or dry on the lowest setting above air fluff on the dryer.

How to Wash Linen Sheets

Because linen is a durable natural fiber, it can withstand higher washing temperatures than other sheets (typically up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). The more frequently linen sheets are washed, the softer they will become. Use a mild detergent, and avoid bleaches or detergents containing bleach. Linen will dry more quickly than other fabrics, so the sheets won't need a hot or long dryer setting. Linen can be ironed at the hot linen setting on your iron.

How to Wash Bamboo Sheets

Bamboo is a natural fiber that benefits from using a mild laundry soap or one specially designed for natural products. Bleach or harsh cleaners will damage bamboo sheets. Use a gentle wash cycle, and be prepared for fading as a result of the first few washings (which is why you should wash them separately). While air-drying is preferred, sheets can be put in a dryer on a low or air-dry setting.

When to Wash Sheets

Wash your sheets weekly (more often for humid climates) to extend the life of your bed linens. During the time spent on the bed, dirt, dust, skin cells, body oils and fluids, and fecal material can accumulate on sheets. The longer these particles build up on the sheets, the more stress is put on the sheet fibers. In addition, skin cells and body oils or fluids can attract microscopic mites.

To reduce the washing frequency, bathe before bedtime so you'll take less dirt into bed with you. Keeping excess sweat, oils, and dirt out of the bed will keep the sheets clean longer. You should also consider having multiple sets of sheets available so a clean set is always ready to go on the bed. By rotating three sets of sheets per bed, the sheets will last longer.

How to Store Clean Sheets

Save time when making up the beds by keeping matching sheets together. Here are a few options for storing clean bedsheets:

  • Stash the folded sheet set inside one of its matching pillowcases, along with the second pillowcase. This method works well for storing sheets in linen closets or bedroom closets.
  • Place the folded fitted sheet and pillowcases inside the folded flat sheet right before its last fold. This method also helps keep linen closets or bedroom closets organized.
  • Store folded sheets in storage boxes labeled by size (such as twin or queen) or by room (primary bedroom). Because of the extra space needed for boxes, this method works best if you have a dedicated linen closet.
  • Store folded sheets in underbed storage containers in the rooms in which they will be used.

Editor's Tip: Tuck a dryer sheet in with the folded sheets to keep them smelling fresh and clean.

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