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How to Care for Bed Linens

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How to Care for Bed Linens

Photo courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

When you go to buy bed linens, you can find lots of different colors, patterns, fabrics, and prices for the pieces you need. And for as many different choices available, there are as many different ways of caring for them. Colors must be protected, fibers must be treated just right.

But you don't need to be puzzled about how to care for each of your choices. You don't need to guess if it's how water or cold, line dry or tumble. Each piece of bed linen you'll buy comes with specific recommendations for cleaning and drying. Follow the directions!

It's a great idea to save the care instructions wrapped with every piece of bed linen. Some of the tags sewn into the hems even tell you how to wash and dry. But it's helpful to tape the instructions on a file card, mark the card with the particular product that it applies to, and keep it near your laundry area. When you're not quite sure how to treat a piece, you'll have the information at hand in the laundry room.

Yet beyond specific instructions are some general, common sense tips for purchasing, cleaning, and caring for sheets, pillow cases, and other bed linens. Did you know that you can remove some wrinkles from sheets by throwing a damp cloth into the dryer? Read more tips on caring for and cleaning bed linens.

Bed Sheets

  • Washing
    • Wash the linens in cool or lukewarm water that's less than 104 degrees F. No need for hot water.
    • Set wash cycle on "gentle." The sheets aren't really dirty.
    • Use the extra rinse cycle if available in order to remove any detergent residue.
    • Use less detergent than usual. In fact, you need only about one half the amount recommended by the detergent label.
    • Avoid using bleach since it breaks down fabric fibers.
  • Drying
    • Leave the sheets in the dryer just until dry.
    • Avoid over drying. You'll just have more wrinkles.
    • Remove sheets from the dryer promptly and fold immediately. Hand press to remove excess wrinkles.
    • If sheets have cooled in the dryer and wrinkles have set, toss in a dampened cloth and dry for 5-10 minutes longer.
    • For a neat-looking bed, iron the top section of you flat sheets. They'll be crisp when you turn them over the top of the blanket.

Pillow Cases

  • If you find pillow cases that you particularly love, buy a few extra. Pillow cases wear out more quickly than sheets.
  • Iron pillowcases for fresh, crisp good looks on your bed.
  • Change pillowcases at least twice a week in normal climates, more often in hot and humid regions.

Storage

  • It's a great idea to have three sets of sheets per bed. Use one on the bed, one in storage, and one in the laundry.
  • Rotate the sheets sets you use (vs. the sets you store) frequently so they wear evenly.
  • Change sheets once a week in normal climates, more often in hot and humid regions.

General Tips for Bed Linen Care

  • Use a mattress pad between the mattress and bottom sheet. Wash the pad when needed, at least every few months.
  • If you love a particularly expensive pattern, buy just the pillow cases and top sheet in the pattern. Buy the bottom sheets in a coordinating, less expensive solid.
  • When sheets are used as fabric for pillow covers, shams, bed skirts, tablecloths, or curtain panels,­ avoid washing them as they will lose body and become limp. Dry clean if necessary.

    Learn about caring for pillows, duvets, and towels on the following pages.

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