How to Wash Bed Sheets

Last Updated on January 13, 2022

by Marc Werner, Founder - GhostBed

Bed sheets need regular washing maintenance to upkeep a clean and healthy bed for promoting a wonderful beneficial sleep. Following specific steps will allow for one to be sure that new bedding and existing sheets have been washed and dried properly.

Prior to washing sheets understand your washing machine as to what size load it can handle. Sheets generally should be washed in a hot water setting to kill germs and bacteria, but, just as you wash clothes, be certain to read care labels first. Note that there are some special fabrics that will need extra care and particular wash settings.

I. Washing the Sheets

METHOD 1: Brand New Sheets and Existing Bed Sheets

METHOD 2: Special Fabric Bed Sheets

METHOD 3: Stain Removal

II. Drying Bed Sheets

METHOD 1: Clothes Line

METHOD 2: Dryer

I. Washing the Sheets

Before washing take care to heed instructions for special materials and regarding stain removal. Just as one needs to wash bed clothes in a timely fashion one should take the same care washing the fashion that adorns their dream memory foam mattress.

Product Necessities

Before the washing and drying process, you will want to take care to have all the products that you may need for cleaning the bed sheets.

Detergent: This is personal preference as some will want a detergent with scents while others, who are overly sensitive, may want a soap that is dye and scent free.

Stain Remover: Be sure to have a special prewash stain remover additive available when a little extra power is needed to aid the detergent in thoroughly cleaning the bedding.

Dryer Sheets: Swap fabric softener for easy to use dryer sheets if you want a softness boost.

Avoid Common Mistakes

To wash the bed sheets one should not just be tossing them into the machine without a bit of taking care to avoid some common mistakes. If you take care of preventing a slip-up before beginning the cleaning process, then you will be able to save yourself from unneeded stress that can ruin sleep.

Washer Overload: Not all washing machines are the same size and can fit oversized loads. A set of King size sheets will take up a machine all on its own. Even though it will take a few loads avoid the temptation of overloading the washer with more than it can handle. This will allow for the bedding to get washed properly and fully, and prevent tearing that can be caused by an agitator strangled by sheets.

Wrong Washer Setting: It is easy to confuse having a full load with heavy-duty. Generally, the heavy-duty setting is reserved for heavily dirty fabrics – such as work clothes. Sheets, unless unusually dirty, should be placed in the wash on a normal, or regular, cycle. The normal setting also work to avoid excessive wrinkling.

Over Drying: With bed sheets taking up a lot of space it stands to reason that they also may take a bit longer to dry. Do not be tempted to just leave the bedding in on an extra-long dryer setting as this can cause shrinking, and extra wear.

Bed Sheets Drying with Towels: A huge mistake is tossing the bed sheets in with the towels. Although these are both looked at as linen cabinet mates they do not do well together in the dryer. Towels are thicker and heavier than sheets requiring longer dry times. Sheets tossed in with towels will be cycling in the dryer already dry waiting for the towels to catch up.

METHOD 1 Brand New Sheets and Existing Bed Sheets

Right after purchase bed sheets should be washed before hitting the bed. Then the bedding should be cleaned at least once a week on a regular basis.

Prewash New Sheets

Sheets right out of the package may feel a bit rough from chemicals adding during the manufacturing process. Normal detergent can lock in the harsh chemicals, thus preventing bed sheets from ever feeling their ultimate softness. To combat this, it is important to prewash sheets with baking soda and vinegar before use. Use one cup of baking soda to begin the wash, and then add one cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. After this wash the bed sheets will be ready to use.

Bed Sheet Wash Process

Sheets should usually be washed regularly once a week. Depending on your lifestyle the once a week rule may be able to be stretched. For those who travel often and are not using their bed can stretch regular washings to fit days the sheets are slept in. Those sweating it out in bed every night, or have just spent days in the sheets ill, will want to wash the bedding more often.

Take Sheets Off Bed

Strip the sheets of the bed to get ready for washing. Before tossing in the machine read the care label to assure that there are no distinct brand care requirements for special fabric.

Put Bed Sheets in Washer

Place the sheet sets into washer in a load reserved only for bed sheets. If you do have a bit more room to fit additional items then you can add a couple of cotton t-shirts, or some underwear, that is in the same color family as the linens. Do not mix towels in the wash with sheets as the roughness of the towels will work much like sandpaper to cause the sheets to wear faster. Towels can also produce lint balls that will end up covering sheets when tossed in together.

Be sure to not bundle too much into the washer. An overloaded machine will result in sheets not getting fully washed and may even cause the machine motor to break.

Add Detergent

After the linens are sitting in the machine ready to wash it is time to add the detergent. As instructed for load size measure out the detergent and place it into washer. Take note of your machine requirements as to where soap should be placed – as some machines the detergent can be tossed in along with load, while other have a special compartment.

Make sure to not use too much detergent as this could cause sheets to wear faster than you would want. Normally a quarter-cup of liquid is sufficient for a regular sized load. If sheets are unusually soiled than you may want to add a bit more soap.

Choose Wash Cycle

New machines can have so many settings that it is like piloting a plane. It is important to choose the right machine cycle to fit the sheets cleaning requirements. Some contemporary machines have a cycle made specifically for sheets. If yours does not have a special sheet setting, then place the linens on a regular cycle.

Normally you will want to use a warm setting and reserve a very hot temperature only for times that sheets are heavily soiled from illness. Note that regularly washing on a very hot setting will cause the sheets to wear out quicker.

Put in Wash Supplement

If desired, you can add a supplement to aid in washing the bed sheets. There are natural ingredients that can augment the cleaning process to make the sheets ready to enhance the sleep experience.

A quarter cup of lemon juice in the wash cycle will work to brighten. Lemon juice is a perfect alternative to a harsh bleach or brightening chemical additive. One cup of white vinegar added to the rinse cycle will make sure that any trace amounts of detergent is totally removed.

METHOD 2. Special Fabric Bed Sheets

Some bed sheet fabrics may have particular needs when it comes to washing. Silk, satin, and linen are unique materials that you will want to take special care with to upkeep them looking and feeling their best.

Silk & Satin

You will want to use a detergent specifically made for delicate fabrics when washing silk and satin bed sheets. For these exclusive materials, be sure to wash on a gentle setting in cold water. Do not mix heavier fabrics in with the silk sheets.

Do not use any type of bleach or chemical additive as this can cause damage to a delicate fabric. When wash is finished do not put silk sheets in hot dryer. Instead, dry the sheets on a clothes line. If the clothes line option is not possible then take care to dry sheets in the dryer on a no heat setting.


Although linen is similar to cotton, its fibers are weaker and need to be cleaned with extra attention. Take care to use a natural detergent to wash linen bed sheets in a colder temperature for the wash cycle.

METHOD 3. Stain Removal

Stains happen on the bed sheets, whether from illness or food, or just living. If you can get to the stain as soon as it occurs the better the results for removing it.

For fresh stains pull the affected sheet or pillow case from the bed and spot clean it with cold water. Then proceed to washing the entire set of bed sheets. For silk fabric, you will want to use a stain remover product made specifically for the delicate material.

Blood: Cold water is the first defense for battling blood stains. If the water does not work alone than add a spot of shampoo or detergents to help scrub and rinse the stain out as best as possible.

Body Oil: Sleeping between the sheets and on the pillow cases will transfer oils from the body and hair onto the bedding. For body oil stains presoak sheets in washing machine with one quarter cup borax mixed with three pumps of dishwashing soap and one third cup white vinegar added to water. After soaking for thirty minutes in mixture – was sheets on the hot water cycle.

II. Drying Bed Sheets

Make sure to quickly remove wet sheets from washer so that they do not sit to invite mold. Gently take sheets from washing machine and shake them out to prepare for drying. You do not want to toss a bundled-up knot of sheets in a dryer as this will impede drying time and cause unnecessary wrinkling.

METHOD 1. Clothes Line

A bright sunny day is inviting to want to hang the bed sheets on an outside clothes line to dry. Reserve the direct sun for hanging white sheets in. For colored sheets, you will want to find a more-shady spot to deter the sun from fading the fabric. To prevent wind damage, pin the sheets on the line in the corners – and not in the middle.

METHOD 2. Dryer

Machine drying gives the sheets an added soft-to-the-touch feel. Even after line drying you may want to pop the bed sheets in the dryer for a moment to soften them up before making the bed.

Shake the sheets out before placing in the dry on a medium or low setting. a too hot setting can wear the sheets out causing them to have a shorter life. Some machines have automatic settings that will turn off when the dryer senses that the sheets are dry.

You will want to take special care of your money-worthy breathable bed sheets serving to provide the best coolest sleep imaginable.

Marc Werner - Founder, GhostBed

Marc Werner

Founder - GhostBed

Twitter LinkedIn

After undergoing three neck surgeries, Marc knew what it was like to live and sleep in constant pain. In 2001, after searching fruitlessly for a comfortable pillow and mattress that supported his neck and back ... Learn More

GhostBed® Canada

Quality • Comfort • Cooling

From $1,120.00 $784.00

Shop Mattresses
Specifications Expand/Collapse Buying a Mattress
Specifications Expand/Collapse Care for Your GhostBed
Specifications Expand/Collapse Mattress Comparisons
Specifications Expand/Collapse Adjustable Base
Specifications Expand/Collapse Benefits of an Ideal Pillow
Specifications Expand/Collapse Personal Sleep Tips
Specifications Expand/Collapse Mattress Size Comparisons
Specifications Expand/Collapse Silk Pillowcase
Specifications Expand/Collapse Bed Sheets
Specifications Expand/Collapse Mattress Toppers
Affirm Financing

Flex Payment

36-Month Flex Pay Option

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Shop Pay
  • PayPal

One-Time Payment

Pay Once. Rest Easy.

Most Orders Ship Within 24 Hours

Shop Mattresses