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
- Clean spray bottle
- Laundry detergent
Steps to Clean the Sheets:
- Before you wash the sheets, spray the affected areas down with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. This pretreatment will begin to work on the stains before the wash.
- 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.
- Add OxiClean to the load, using the amount indicated on the label.
- Allow them to soak in the hottest water possible for a few minutes if your washer allows. If not, set your washer to the longest wash cycle.
- 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.
- 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. Just a squirt or teaspoon should sufice for a large load. Dish liquid creates a lot of suds, so you don’t want to use too much.
Printed bed sheets have grayed and repeated washing has not lightened the gray… any suggestions???
You may have hard water; this article can help: How to Wash Whites in High-Iron Water.
Will this process work if I’m washing the sheets in a laundromat?
The only step that might be different at a laundromat would be having the washer stop to let the clothes soak in hot water before starting the wash cycle. For that, it will depend on what type of machines are at your specific laundromat. Top loading washers usually can be stopped just by opening the lid. Front loading washers will depend on how the buttons/knobs can be operated.
Will these techniques work in my HE washer?
As long as there is enough water in your washer to completely submerge the bed sheets, then everything should be the same. Depending on your washer selections, you may be able to do a “large load” even if there’s just the two sheets. If there is not enough water, you could soak the sheets in the bathtub first as though you are going to wash them by hand, then put them into the washer for a regular wash cycle afterwards. Another option is to pour in extra water through the soap dispenser.
For more information about cleaning items by hand, see the article on How to Hand Wash Clothing. Also, OxiClean does have instructions for HE washers on the label.
Source: OxiClean – FAQ
Hi, wouldn’t the hot water shrink good quality cotton sheets? Don’t want the sheets to difficult to fit the bed. Mark
Mary S says
Cotton does not shrink and is good in a 95 degree wash.
Blood stains, however old, can be removed with a solution of household bleach and water 1:2. You can use undiluted bleach if the solution fails, but watch and rinse the moment the stain disappears.
To whiten delicate fabrics, such as old lace, soak in a boric acid solution and then wash by hand using pure soap flakes.
For shirt collars, use a little washing-up detergent and rub gently with a nailbrush before placing in the machine.