How to Clean Bed Sheets

blood-mattress

Marina asked: How do I clean bed sheets? I am not sure whether I am using the incorrect product or water temperature, as my cotton bed sheets are still stained yellow from body oils and sweat after a hot wash with liquid detergent. There is also a waxy texture to the sheets in the soiled areas. Thanks so much!

The yellowing of bed sheets is, unfortunately, rather common. It happens when sweat or body oils accumulate in the fabric and can be made worse when the wash water isn’t hot enough. Your success in removing these stains will vary somewhat depending on the type of linens you use, any dyes present, and whether your water is hard or not. But in every case, you should see a great deal of improvement by following these steps.

You Will Need:

 

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Clean spray bottle
  • OxiClean
  • Laundry detergent

Steps to Clean the Sheets:

  1. Before you wash the sheets, spray the affected areas down with a solution of vinegar and water. This pretreatment will begin to work on the stains before the wash.
  2. Load the washing machine as you normally would, adding a quality laundry detergent. You don’t necessarily need the most expensive one, but try a proven name with a great detergent concentration or proven stain power if you’ve been using discount brands.
  3. Add OxiClean to the load, using the amount indicated on the label.
  4. Allow them to soak in the hottest water possible for a few minutes.
  5. Before the water begins to cool, begin the wash cycle. In the end, hot water is the key to removing these oily, waxy, yellowish buildups.
  6. Dry as usual. If the stains are not gone, you should see a vast improvement in their appearance – especially as you continue to wash them following these steps.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Never use fabric softener if you have problems with yellowing. Both liquid softener and dryer sheets will add to the build-up and make the problem worse.
  • If possible, hang the wet sheets out in the sun to dry. The sun acts as a natural bleaching agent.
  • Stains tend to be worse on synthetic fabrics. Consider 100% cotton sheets next time you buy, and you’ll find they’re less likely to stain.
  • If your linens are white, Bluing has a time-honored tradition of making whites their whitest. It’s worth a try!
  • If grease and oil stains are a problem, try replacing your laundry detergent with a grease-fighting dish detergent for a wash cycle.

 

Comments

  1. Lorna says:

    I read that jojoba oil does not stain sheets. It is staining my sheets.

  2. Tina says:

    I washed my sheet with a stain remover, but the blood is still on it and now it is an old stain; how do I get it out?

  3. Melanie says:

    Tina,
    This is the article you need: How to Remove Blood Stains

  4. Margie says:

    Printed bed sheets have grayed and repeated washing has not lightened the gray… any suggestions???

  5. Melanie says:

    Margie,
    You may have hard water; this article can help: How to Wash Whites in High-Iron Water.

  6. Tim says:

    What should the water/vinegar mix ratio be?

  7. Melanie says:

    Tim,
    I usually use a 1:2 vinegar:water ratio in general, but sometimes a 1:1 ratio works better on stains. Start with the more diluted version and increase the amount of vinegar until satisfied. You’re really just diluting the vinegar so that the solution is less acidic (and therefore gentler on the fabric fibers).

  8. Sarah says:

    How much dish soap to remove waxes and oils? Washing king size sheets in top loader. Thanks!!

  9. Melanie says:

    Sarah,
    For a large load, just a squirt or two should be sufficient (about a teaspoon). Dish liquid is made to create suds easily, so you don’t want to use too much or the suds could overflow the washer. Hot water will work better for oil stains than cold water. Also, make sure that the dish liquid does not contain bleach.
    Source: Home Ec 101 – Can I Use Dish Soap in the Clothes Washer?
    Source: eHow – How Much Dawn Detergent to Use When Washing a Down Comforter
    Source: HowToCleanStuff – How to Clean Oil Stains From Polyester

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