Nothing says fresh and crisp like a set of white (organic) cotton sheets. They are a simple luxury that just brighten up your whole bedroom.
But while we love the look of an all-white bed set, keeping your sheets white can be somewhat of a challenge. Over time, you may find your bedding takes on a yellow tinge, making them look old and dingy, even after you’ve just washed them. This generally happens due to an accumulation of sweat, body oils, and skin care products that stick to the fibers of the sheets. This doesn’t mean your sheets are permanently dirty, but rather that they are stained.
While you may be tempted to ditch them for a new set of sheets, we have an easier (and much more cost efficient) suggestion. In today’s post, we’re showing you how to naturally keep your sheets white.
Of course, you could just bleach your sheets, but this means adding a lot of unnecessary chemicals to your bedding If you’ve made the decision to choose organic cotton, there’s a good chance you’re interested in limiting the amount of chemicals you come into contact with. Another reason to avoid it- bleach can actually react with the proteins from your sweat and dead skin on your sheets and cause them to become more, not less, yellow.
All of the whitening methods below are all natural and chemical free, so you can enjoy fresh white sheets the healthy way.
You may assume your washer is already clean- after all, you run it full of hot water and soap on the regular, so how would it get dirty?
The thing is, rust and mineral deposits can build up in your washer, and these can cause your sheets (and clothing) to become dingy overtime. To clean out your washer, simply add either 1 cup of vinegar of ½ cup of baking soda to an empty load and run with hot water. Make sure you choose one or the other, not both. While baking soda and vinegar are both superstar natural cleaners, they don’t react well together and can actually cancel out each other’s cleaning properties.
Whichever method you choose, you want to make sure that you’re using the hottest water setting possible. Hot water will help to break down the stains in a way that cold or even warm water just can’t. Some people even recommend boiling a pot of water on the stove and adding that to their wash.
There are a number of all-natural laundry boosters that you can add to your wash regularly to help break down oils and stains and keep your whites their whitest. These include fresh lemon juice (not the stuff from concentrate), 3% hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, and washing soda (washing soda is similar to baking soda but has a higher alkalinity, making it a more powerful cleaning agent).
How to use: All you need to do is add ½ cup of the ingredient of your choice to your regular wash. This is best used regularly for maintenance rather than as a fix for very yellowed sheets.
For more stubborn stains or yellowing that has been there for a while, you may need something stronger than a laundry booster. Instead, you can soak your sheets in a solution for a few hours before washing then.
How to use it: Add your sheets to a large bucket or your bathtub and fill it up with hot water until your sheets are completely submerged. Then add 1 ½ cups 3% hydrogen peroxide and ½ cup lemon juice. Another option is to add 1 cup of vinegar to the water. Make sure they are mixed in well and then allow to soak for a few hours. Then launder as usual.
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for over a century to help whiten, brighten, and deodorize clothing and sheets. You can add ½ cup to your regular wash or make a pre-soak by adding ½ cup of borax with enough water to cover your sheets. Allow the mixture to soak for a few hours and then launder your sheets as usual.
Dish soap isn’t used in place of your detergent, but rather as a laundry booster. It’s great at breaking down oils, so it will help to break down the body oils on your bedding that are causing the yellowing.
There are lots of great natural dish soaps on the market, so you can find one that is clean and free from chemicals. If you need help finding a good option, check out the database at the Environmental Working Group.
How to use it: Start your washer (using hot water) and then add your detergent and bedding. Add approximately 3 tablespoons, or 3 squirts, of detergent to the running water stream, and then launder as usual.
Drying your sheets in the sun can also have a subtle bleaching effect. You won’t notice dramatic results, but it’s a nice add on. Plus, sheets fresh off the line are pretty amazing, so we think it’s worth it either way!
A traditional way to brighten up whites is to add a small amount of blue dye to your wash, a process known as bluing. This may seem odd, but a hint of blue actually keeps whites looking white. Mrs. Stewart’s is a popular bluing brand that claims to be non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
In addition to the above treatments, you can also help to mitigate yellowing by taking care of your sheets properly.
Washing them either weekly or biweekly is a necessary first step to keep the buildup of sweat, body oils, etc. to a minimum. You wouldn’t wear the same shirt for 2 weeks in a row without washing it, and your bedding is no different!
It’s also helpful to add an extra rinse cycle to your wash, if your machine has it. This helps to remove an excess detergent, which can cause discolouration if it builds up over time.
Lastly, make sure to spot treat as soon as you get a stain on your sheets (this is especially important for all of us out there who like to snack or enjoy breakfast in bed!). You can use your own favourite stain remover or try dabbing on some hydrogen peroxide.
Follow these steps and you’ll have your sheets returned to their original glory in no time! If you’d like to skip the hassle altogether, check out our other bedding set colours, which include dove grey, blue, steel grey, sand, and ivory.
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