How To Wash White Bedding [With And Without Bleach]

Having a white comforter or bedding set can create a beautiful look on your bed, but we all know how difficult light colors, especially white, can be to clean. What are some ways to keep that white bedding looking like the day you bought it? We've done some searching and have some great methods for you to try. 

To wash white bedding, try the following techniques:

  • Always wash in cold water.
  • Wash sheets weekly, comforter/duvet bi-weekly.
  • Separate your bedding from other items
  • Add lemon juice to your washing routine.
  • Try a laundry booster.
  • Line dry when able
  • Use baking soda and vinegar.
  • Handle stains right away
  • If sheets or bedding are already dingy/yellowed, try bluing.
  • If all else fails, use bleach.

Now that we've listed the basics to keep in mind when washing that bright white bedding let's elaborate on each one. We'll discuss some how-to steps, as well as answer some other questions you might have. Keep reading!

wicker laundry basket filled with dirty laundry white bedding, How To Wash White Bedding (With And Without Bleach)


Always wash in cold water.

The first thing to keep in mind when washing white bedding is using cold water as much as possible. If you have a tough stain, it might become necessary to use warm or hot water, but using warm and hot water makes the fibers in the fabric break down faster. Avoid using it except for the rare occasion of a rough stain.

Wash sheets weekly, comforter/duvet bi-weekly.

It's inevitable when something touches your body and hair every day that there will be a build-up of oils and dirt transferred onto your bedding. These natural oils can cause your white bedding to become yellow over time. Regular washing and care of your bedding set can circumvent this, or at the very least, delay it. Wash your sheets once a week and the bedding every other week if at all possible.

Separate your bedding from other items

Though you might be tempted to wash your white sheets or comforter with other white items, it's essential to keep them separate from everything. Even washing your bedding with different textures can affect the color or cause pilling. Don't fall to the temptation to throw those white towels in with your sheets. Additionally, make every effort to evenly distribute the weight of your bedding in the washer, and use a gentle cycle.

Add lemon juice to your washing routine

The citric acid in lemon juice can help whiten and keep your white bedding bright. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice at the beginning of your cycle, along with your regular laundry detergent. This will prevent the yellowing that can happen over time to whites or brighten the fabric if the bedding has already begun to look a little dingy. 

View this lemon juice on Amazon.

Try a laundry booster

Add a laundry booster like Oxiclean to your bedding washing routine at least once a month, if not more frequently. Laundry boosters work great as pre-soaks or used in addition to your regular laundry detergent. Most washing machines have a pre-soak option; why not take advantage of that and pre-soak your bedding in a laundry booster?

View this laundry booster on Amazon.

If you have white bedding, should you also have white curtains? Read our post, "Should Bedroom Curtains Match Bedding?" to find out. 

Line dry when able

Adding your bedding to the dryer can cause it to wear down faster. The heat causes the fabric to deteriorate, and the motion of it can cause pilling. Line dry your linens and comforter as much as you can. It's understandable if you must use a dryer during the winter months, but run it on a low-heat setting for longer instead of very high heat for a shorter period. 

View this clothesline on Amazon.

Use baking soda and vinegar

Add a half-cup of baking soda along with your regular laundry detergent when your start your bedding load. Then, just before your rinse cycle, add half a cup of white vinegar to the load. These two things combined will add a definite boost to the whiteness of your bedding. If you don't want to wait around for the rinse cycle, try pre-soaking the bedding in vinegar instead. Either method will help give you the boost you're looking for.

View this vinegar on Amazon.

Handle stains right away

In the event of an inevitable spill, be sure to tackle that spot right away. If the stain is bad, this is an instance where you'll want to use warm water. Soak the bedding in a large tub of warm water with half a cup of vinegar for at least an hour before laundering. This should take care of the stain before it sets. It wouldn't hurt to add some baking soda in addition to the detergent to make sure the stain is obliterated. 

If sheets or bedding are already dingy/yellowed, try bluing

If you've stumbled across this article and your bedding is already dingy, there is an age-old method to try called "bluing." The name practically describes the process, which is adding a small amount of blue dye to the bedding to cover the yellow and return it to its bright white state. Many products are available to complete this process, all with their own sets of instructions. If all else fails, bluing can revive what might have been seen as a lost cause. 

View this bluing liquid on Amazon.

Try using a product made for bluing instead of just throwing some blue dye in your washer. The results could be disastrous. 

How to wash white bedding with bleach 

Bleaching should not be your go-to method, but if you wish to use bleach on your white bedding, try to keep the bleaching to a minimum. It works well occasionally and does disinfect thoroughly.

First, to bleach your bedding, run your bedding through a regular cycle using your standard laundry detergent. Once the cycle has completed, temporarily remove your bedding. Removing the bedding ensures you do not pour undiluted bleach directly on your bedding. Add half a cup of bleach to your empty drum and start the water. If your washer comes with a bleach dispenser, it is safe to leave your bedding in the washer. Run a regular wash cycle to allow the bleach to do its work and whiten your sheets. 

View this bleach on Amazon.

What causes yellow stains on sheets?

The yellow stains on sheets develop over time after exposure to sweat, body oils, or dead skin. Human sweat has a component called lipofuscin, which causes discoloration. Who wants to be reminded of that? If you follow the natural techniques we've gone over above, you can circumvent these yellow stains and keep them from occurring. 

Does bleach ruin sheets?

Bleach can ruin your sheets if used too frequently or incorrectly. Overuse or pouring undiluted bleach directly on your bedding will undoubtedly deteriorate the fabric and cause yellowing and wear over time. If you use bleach as your primary whitening method, you will begin to notice discoloration, pilling, and worn spots or holes. If you use bleach correctly and only periodically, it can be a useful tool in your arsenal for whitening and disinfecting. 

Does borax disinfect bedding?

Borax does disinfect your bedding. Borax can be used to soak your bedding before washing or in addition to laundry detergent in a regular cycle. Although it is most effective in higher temperatures, it still will disinfect in cooler climates. To disinfect in cooler water, try soaking and washing the bedding in borax for a double dose of disinfection. 

View this borax on Amazon.

Tired of dealing with your white sheets? Read our post, "15 Star Wars Bedding Sets Any Fan Would Want," and expand your bedroom decor!

How do hotels keep their sheets so white?

If you're wondering if hotels have a secret method to keep their linens so white, rest assured they do not. Hotel linens are frequently replaced, so they don't tend to concentrate on extending these linens' lives. Therefore, they use high temperatures and bleach after every use. Hotels generally wash the sheets more than once, with one load being with regular laundry detergent, one with bleach, and perhaps one with fabric softener.

Keep in mind, these methods are also used with the consumer in mind, as hot water and bleach provide optimum disinfection. To maintain health and give you crisp, clean sheets, hotels use methods we might not at home. 

In Closing

White messy beddings, breathable flannel sheets

A few extra steps, and you can keep that crisp, bright white bedding looking brand new. Keep those natural cleansers on hand, treat them with a laundry booster, throw in the occasional half a cup of bleach, and you're sure to keep your sheets and comforter in perfect condition for as long as you'd like to enjoy them. Rest well!

Looking to get some ideas for bedding colors? Read our post, "15 Master Bedroom Bedding Set Ideas"

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