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.
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 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.
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.
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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.
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