How to Wash White Sheets [Inc. How Hotels Keep Sheets White!]

What is the best way to wash white sheets? We understand how problematic washing (and maintaining) white sheets can be. It’s for that reason that we did some extensive research on this topic. You’ll find our findings on this post helpful in your quest to keep your sheets whiter for longer.

White sheets are bound to develop an undesirable yellow tinge as time goes by. Luckily, maintaining the white of your sheets isn’t such a complicated process. Here are a few tips to put into action:

  • Find the reason behind the color change. Perhaps it’s the chlorine bleach, poor laundry cycle, etc. Being mindful of how you handle your sheets helps to prevent/treat the discoloration and keep them whiter than ever.
  • Consider laundering your sheets more often. In place of bleach, wash your sheets using a quality laundry booster (examples later in this post).
  • Soak your sheets overnight in a gentle whitening product and warm water. This helps to reverse any kind of dinginess in the sheet. 
  • If all else fails, try bluing. Adding a trace amount of blue to your sheets allows you to counteract any yellowing occurrences effectively. 

Beware of the usage instructions as you use the laundry boosters/bluing agents. Since they vary significantly from brand to brand, it’s best to use each with the highest form of caution.

That’s a lot to take in – we understand. That’s why we’ve taken the time to answer some closely related questions – along with a few tips in between – in this post. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Luxury hotel bedroom with seaview, How to Wash White Sheets [Inc. How Hotels Keep Sheets White!]

Why Are My White Sheets Turning Yellow?

The yellow discoloration in white sheets is primarily caused by body oil, body sweat, and body lotions. It’s important to note that white sheets eventually adopt a yellow, dingy cast – that’s no cause for alarm. However, you can delay the inevitable by following the tips outlined in the following points below.

How Do I Get My White Sheets White Again? 

White sheets with a yellow tinge need to be treated using any of the following household items before, during, and after washing: 

  • Lemon juice: Lemons have citric acid that acts as a natural bleaching agent. When used with your regular detergent, one lemon is enough to brighten any discolored sheet. 
  • Vinegar:  Soak your sheets for one hour using one gallon of warm water with half a cup of vinegar. Later, hand wash/machine wash them using a gentle detergent. Get rid of the vinegar smell by air drying them after washing. 
  • Liquid bluing: Bluing is a fast and effective way to counteract yellow shades on white sheets. A single drop of Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing 8oz in cold water is the perfect recipe for brighter whites. 

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  • Baking soda: For sparkling white bedding, add half a cup of baking soda to your preferred detergent. This helps to boost the detergent’s whitening abilities. 

How Do You Whiten Yellowed Cotton? 

It gets frustrating when perspiration takes place, and your white cotton gets yellowed over time. Not to worry. Follow these simple steps to get rid of the yellow color and restore your cotton’s bona fide bright tone:

Step 1 

To a basin of cold water, add a cup of white vinegar. Swish thoroughly with your hand, and dunk your cotton. Allow it to soak for five minutes.

Step 2

Rinse your cotton bedding – or any white laundry for that matter – in cold water. 

Step 3

Rub some detergent into the heavily soiled patches and allow it to set in for roughly 10 minutes.

Step 4

Put the cotton into your washing machine and add the hottest water it can handle. This info is typically detailed on the laundry’s tag.  

Step 5

Add at least two capfuls of OxiClean Stain Remover. Again, follow the ‘instructions for care’ on your sheet’s tag to know how much of it to add.  

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Does Boiling White Sheets Make Them Whiter? 

Indeed. Boiling your whites is one of the most natural ways to transform your yellowed sheets to whiter shades. Use the citrus soak method to achieve that all-natural whitening effect. Simply boil your sheets with water and lemon juice and turn up the heat. 

Once the bubbles appear on the surface, turn off the heat and soak for an hour. 

You can achieve similar results by adding lemon juice to your regular wash cycle. All you need to do is to adjust your washer to ‘hot’ and add a pot of incredibly hot water. Add in a mixture of Borax, bleach, dishwashing powder, and laundry detergent.  

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This helps to give your sheets a deep and thorough cleaning. By the end of the cycle, your sheets should be just as white as the day you bought them – if not significantly more. 

Can You Bleach White Sheets? 

You can bleach your yellow sheets to a crisp white tone using quality household bleach. Provided the discolored sheets are made of natural cotton or fiber, it won’t be hard to restore the bright tone.

It’s a good idea to first perform a spot check on your bedding if you’ve never used bleach on them before. Do this by adding a drop or two on unnoticeable locations such as the corners or margins. 

Next, pre-soak your bedding for at least half an hour once you’ve determined the safety of your item. Afterward, run your washing cycle and add bleach to your washer’s dispenser.

If you’re using all-fabric bleach such as OxiClean, add it at the start of the cycle. For liquid chlorine bleach such as Liquid Clorox Bleach, wait at least five minutes before adding. 

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Does Baking Soda Whiten Sheets? 

Yes, baking soda does whiten sheets. Most people know it only for its odor control qualities and very few for its natural whitening capabilities. It’s a splendid alternative to bleach for so many reasons. 

First off, it boosts your detergent’s stain-removal power. This helps a lot in gently eliminating tough stains and dealing with the strongest odors. Baking soda also keeps your washing machine sparkling clean after each cycle.

Whitening your sheets using baking soda is a pretty seamless process. Just put your bedding into your washing machine, add a handful of detergent and complete the mix with half a cup of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.

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Baking sodas also act as stain removers that work on most kinds of bedsheet fabric. Simply mix your baking soda with cold water and apply the resulting paste on the stain(s). Once it dries, rinse it off with clean water. 

Interior of modern bedroom with four pillows

How Do Hotels Keep Sheets White? 

Hotels take bedding hygiene and maintenance to a whole other level. Their snow-white sheets might give you the impression that they use the highest quality of detergents, bleaches, and a ton of fancy cleaning methods. 

The truth is, most hotels keep the cleaning process real simple with this 3-step process:

1. Machine wash with detergent

2. Second wash, this time with softener

3. Final wash using bleach alone

Will this keep your sheets white? Absolutely! However, you must adhere to three crucial rules:

First, never wash your sheets using hot water. Hot water damages materials rather quickly. 

Second, be careful not to overload your machine. This may lead to an uneven distribution of detergent, thereby missing a few stains in the process. And third, avoid the high dry setting. Intense temperatures tend to wear out versatile fabrics and affect the white color in the process. 

How Do You Wash Bed Sheets In The Washing Machine?

First, start by reading the care tags on the sheets to ensure you follow all the cleaning requirements to the letter. Some fabrics may not blend so well with certain detergents, bleaches, or other whitening agents. 

Whether you’re washing new sheets or old ones, you must know how to wash them properly in a washing machine. 

Wash your bedsheets with the highest temperature listed on the fabric care tag. Use warm water for polyester blends and hot water for pure cotton. Add in a little detergent with optical brighteners to maximize the white shade and minimize the yellows.

Apply some chlorine bleach to all your washable bed sheet fabrics aside from silk and wool. Be sure not to overuse in the hopes of giving a whiter tone to your bedsheets. Doing so may damage your fabrics instead.

Next, add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar is an excellent alternative to commercial fabric softeners that effectively strips away all detergent from the fabrics. 

Be Mindful Of Your Storage Methods

As you take the necessary steps to wash and whiten your sheets, don’t neglect the proper storage practices. Keeping white sheets in bags or plastic tubs often contributes to discoloration and yellowing. Set aside a cool and dry space in your closet and use it to store all your whites. 

Bedsheets stacked in stock room

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