How to Care for Sheets and Bedding: 7 Tips and Tricks
From tangled folding of fitted sheets to keeping pillowcases fresh, here's how to care for your bedding so it lasts as long as possible. We spend so much of our lives in bed, and yet our sheets and bedding often get a raw deal when it comes to care. This may be partly because caring for them is one of those chores, but also because caring for them properly involves some of the deeper mysteries of household management: folding fitted sheets, need I say more?
But it's important to take care of the things with which we cover our beds to extend their life as long as possible. "Conventional" cotton is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world, and the less of it we use, the better. Sustainable options may cost more, but your wallet will appreciate some longevity, and besides, getting the most out of our stuff is one of the simple basics of sustainable living.
With that in mind, here we show you how to show your bedding some love.
1. Cleaning the sheets
How often you wash your sheets is a matter of choice and a hotly debated topic. Clean sheets feel good, but frequent washing breaks down the fibers faster, resulting in a shorter lifespan and using more resources. Find the right balance for you, then wash them in warm water, not hot (which can shrink fibers). Use a natural bleach for stains. Tumble dry or line dry according to label instructions.
2. Keeping sheets smelling fresh
There's nothing quite like taking bedding you're sure is clean out of the closet, making your bed, and slipping into a musty-smelling cotton sandwich. Bed sheets get stale, usually due to lack of air circulation in the linen closet (or drawer or shelf or wherever you keep them) - they need to breathe! And if there's a spot of moisture in there, the problem gets even worse. Make sure your sheets are bone dry before you put them away, and make sure your storage room has enough space so the linens aren't packed too tightly, and that it also has ventilation so the air can circulate. You can also add some lavender to balance out the wetness.
3. Cleaning pillows
To extend the life of your pillow and improve hygiene, use a zippered pillow protector that fits under the pillowcase. No one wants to sleep on a body oil sponge.
Even if the pillows are protected with a cover, they should be washed twice a year, and the covers once a month. Most pillows are machine washable - it says so on the label. Use liquid detergent (not powder to avoid residue), wash them in pairs to keep the washing machine balanced, and rinse them twice.
4. Pillow drying
To dry down and feather pillows, use the air cycle or the lowest heat setting available to you; dry them until they're completely dry and no lumps remain. (You don't want moldy pillows.) For polyester pillows, use low heat. You can put a couple of tennis balls in the dryer to help fluff them, but the dryer alone will probably be enough.
5. Fold fitted sheets
I could try to describe this simple solution to one of life's biggest conundrums, but after a few sentences like "fold this corner into that corner" I'd be sure to lose you. So, instead, a few pictures:
6. Cleaning the Mattress
Cleaning your mattress - with baking soda for small stains or a steam cleaner for stubborn dirt - can ease your allergies by reducing dust mites, improve your health and, best of all, help you sleep better.
7. Cleaning a duvet
You may find cleaning instructions on your comforter, but even then, many duvets won't fit in the washing machine, even if it says they can be machine washed. In this case, use the bathtub or a child's outdoor pool where you can fluff up the duvet by walking on it. If you only have spots to clean, don't soak the whole duvet. Wring out as much water as possible and dry it in the dryer or on the line.