How to care for sheets and bedding: 8 mysteries solved
From the confounding folding of fitted sheets to keeping pillowcases fresh, here’s how to love your bedding to ensure its longest life.
We spend so much of our lives in bed, yet our sheets and bedding often get short shrift in the care department. Partly, perhaps, because tending to them falls under the umbrella of tedious chores, but also because their proper care is imbued with some of the deeper mysteries that housekeeping has to offer: Folding fitted sheets, need I say more?
But taking care of the things with which we dress our beds to extend their lives for as long as possible is important. “Conventional” cotton is one of the world’s most pesticide-intensive crops and so the less we consume there, the better; sustainable options may cost more and your wallet will appreciate some longevity, plus, getting the most out of our stuff is one of the simple basics of sustainable living.
With that in mind, here's how to show your bedding some love.
1. Cleaning sheetsHow often you wash your sheets is a matter of choice, and a topic of hot debate. Clean sheets feel great; frequent washing breaks down the fiber more quickly resulting in a shorter life and uses more resources. Find the right balance for you and then wash them in warm water, not hot (which can shrink the fibers). For stains, use a natural bleaching agent, like Bio Kleen Oxygen Bleach. Tumble or line dry according to label instructions.
2. Keeping sheets smelling freshThere’s nothing like taking sheets that you’re sure are clean out of storage, dressing the bed, and slipping into a musty-smelling cotton sandwich. Sheets get stale, generally due to lack of air circulation in the linen closet (or drawer or shelf or wherever you store them) – they need to breathe! And if there’s a speck of moisture with them, the problem is even worse. Make sure your sheets are bone dry before stowing them and be sure that your storage area has room so the bedding isn’t packed too tightly, and also has ventilation to get air circulation in there. You can also add some lavender to help offset dankness.
3. Cleaning pillowsTo extend the life of your pillow and for better hygiene, use a zippered pillow protector that goes under the pillowcase – this will protect the heart of your pillow from allergens, and hair and body oils which can saturate the pillow. Nobody wants to sleep on a body-oil sponge.
Even protected with a cover, pillows should be washed twice yearly and the protectors once a month. Most pillows are machine washable – it will say on the label. Use liquid detergent (rather than powder to avoid residue), wash them in pairs to keep the washer balanced, and rinse them twice. For how to clean pillows with other types of fill, see: Do you know how to clean pillows?