The Best Way to Whiten Sheets

White sheets are commonly used in bedrooms, but due to the accumulation of sweat and body oils, they can often turn yellow over time. However, there are several ways to whiten sheets and keep them naturally white as long as possible. One solution is to mix a solution of half a cup of lemon juice or borax with one gallon of hot water and soak overnight, then machine wash as usual. Alternatively, add half a cup of baking soda to the drum of the washing machine and some vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. Additionally, it’s best to wash sheets once per week, let them dry on a clothesline if possible, and replace old sheets every two or three years of regular use.

Crisp white sheets can help promote a feeling of calm in your bedroom and make you feel like you’re vacationing at a fancy hotel. But the problem with using white sheets as opposed to colored or patterned ones is that it’s not always that easy to keep them, well, white.

Even if you change and wash your sheets regularly, white sheets can turn yellow over time due to the accumulation of sweat and body oils. But the good news is there are some easy ways to whiten sheets when that happens. Read on to find out how to get sheets white again in a few easy steps.

How to whiten sheets 

Guess what: You probably already have on hand everything you need to whiten white sheets that have turned yellowish. Here’s how to get sheets white without going any farther than your pantry.

Baking soda and vinegar

Thanks to its acidic nature, vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent, able to dissolve grease and grime and kill bacteria. Baking soda, on the other hand, is a natural odor neutralizer. These two together (but used separately!) make a powerful cleaning pair.

Simply add half a cup of baking soda to the drum of your washing machine. Then add some vinegar to your fabric softener dispenser. Machine wash as usual. 

It’s important not to mix the two as they will neutralize each other and become essentially useless.

Lemon

Like vinegar, lemon is a natural cleaning agent because it contains citric acid, which kills bacteria. Plus, lemon juice will make your sheets smell citrusy. There are two ways to use lemon to brighten white sheets. 

First, you can squeeze the juice of one lemon and pour it into the washing machine along with the detergent. Alternatively, you can mix a solution of half a cup of lemon with one gallon of hot water (check first if your sheets can tolerate hot water) and soak the sheets in it for a few hours or overnight. After that, wash them as usual.

Borax

Borax is a very versatile cleaning agent, able to get rid of mold, kill insects, and neutralize odors. The best way to white sheets using borax is to mix half a cup of borax with one gallon of water and soak your sheets in this solution overnight. Then machine wash them as usual.

Bleach

While chlorine bleach seems like a logical choice to use as a whitening agent, you actually have to be careful with it. That’s because the chlorine in bleach can chemically react with the proteins contained in body fluids and cause yellow stains to appear.

However, you can still use bleach to whiten your sheets. You just have to be careful. First, wash the sheets without bleach to clean away body fluids. Then add bleach to the second cycle.

Alternatively, you can use non-chlorine bleach to whiten sheets. Oxygen bleach can be added to every wash to keep your sheets white.

Best practices for washing sheets

The best cure, of course, is prevention. Your white sheets getting yellow over time might be unavoidable, but there are definitely ways you can delay that and keep them naturally white as long as possible.

  • First of all, it’s a good idea to wash your sheets once per week—or, at the very least, once every two weeks. This is the ideal frequency as it won’t let your sheets get too dirty—but it’s not so frequent as to cause unnecessary wear and tear.
  • Second, instead of tumble drying your sheets, let them dry on the clothesline if possible. A couple of hours in the sun can both brighten and freshen them.
  • Don’t wash your white sheets with items that aren’t white. Even very light or neutral shades can still bleed their colors in the wash, making your sheets less white.
  • Taking a shower before bed can help minimize the amount of body fluids your sheets come in contact with, keeping them white for longer.
  • Don’t eat in bed. Food stains and spills can leave stains on your white sheets that will be difficult to remove later, not to mention they can potentially damage your mattress.
  • Replace your old sheets when it’s time. Even if you take really good care of your sheets, sooner or later they’ll have to be retired. Typically, a set of sheets will last you around two or three years of regular use and will need to be replaced after.

Time for new sheets? Check out what Saatva offers

Organic Sateen Sheet Set

It's easy to see why our flagship organic cotton sheet is a bestseller. Its silky-soft, 300 thread count sateen weave is made with 100% certified organic cotton. It's better for the planet and feels indulgently luxurious on you.

Percale Sheet Set

Pamper yourself in deluxe comfort with our breathable percale sheets. They're made from the world's best long-staple cotton that gets softer and better with every wash.

Linen Sheet Set

Sleep in effortless style with our deluxe linen sheets made with responsibly-sourced, all-natural Belgian linen. Stays cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and gets softer with every wash.

FAQs 

How do I get my sheets white again?

There are a few simple ways to whiten white sheets that have turned yellow. Simply mix a solution of half a cup of lemon juice or borax to one gallon of hot water and soak overnight, then machine wash as usual. Alternatively, add half a cup of baking soda to the drum of the washing machine and some vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser.

How can I make my sheets white again without bleach?

Contrary to what most people think, it’s not a good idea to whiten sheets with bleach as bleach can react with some body fluids, creating unsightly yellow stains. Instead, add some baking soda to the drum of your washing machine to brighten white sheets or soak them in a solution of lemon juice and water overnight.

Can you make yellowed sheets white again?

While it’s unavoidable for white sheets to yellow over time, it’s definitely possible to make them white again using one of the natural cleaning agents already found in your home. Simply soak the sheets in a solution of lemon juice and water or add some baking soda to the drum of your washing machine.

Find the best white sheets at Saatva

If you’ve tried all the ways to whiten your old sheets but they’re still yellow or discolored, it may be time for new ones. Saatva offers a wide range of sheets to suit every sleep preference.

From

sateen
saatva organic sateen sheet set
Organic Sateen Sheet Set

Organic cotton sheets with a timeless elegance

 to
percale
saatva percale sheet set
Percale Sheet Set

Crisp and cool percale cotton sheets with a luxe matte finish

 to
linen
saatva linen sheet set
Linen Sheet Set

Airy and elegant linen sheets with a relaxed look

 to
flannel
saatva luxury flannel sheet set
Luxury Flannel Sheet Set

Heirloom-quality flannel cotton sheets with a velvety-soft feel

, all of our sheets are made from high-quality, eco-friendly, breathable materials for cool, comfortable sleep and are available in neutral colors like white, ivory, and grey. 

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