White sheets are an archetype of minimalism with their timeless, breezy look. But what white bedding lacks in aesthetic complexity it makes up for in onerous care. While there are plenty of options for laundering your dirty white sheets (did someone say bleach?), if you're not a careful white-sheet owner, you might end up living in your laundry room.
We all know there's nothing like a set of crisp, white sheets—and our guess is, you want to keep yours that way. Here are a few things to avoid if you want to keep your whites in tip-top shape.
Don't leave your sheets on too long
While it's important to wash any sheets on the regular, this principle holds especially true for white sheets—especially if you want to protect their longevity. To keep your sheets in the best shape possible for as long as possible, you will want to replace your sheets at least once a week. (It can't hurt to keep a few extra sets on hand for that very reason.)
Don't eat in bed
Spilling coffee or dropping chocolate on freshly-laundered white sheets is the stuff of our nightmares. You know the feeling of spilling a glass of Cabernet on a bright white blouse? Imagine that, except in the place you sleep. This one seems obvious, but if you don't want food residue or stains left on your bedding, you simply have to avoid eating or drinking while you're in bed. Yes, there's nothing a little bleach won't fix, but preventing spots and spills from the start will save you a lifetime of laundry, not to mention keep your sheets from unnecessary wear and tear.
If you simply can't skip the Ben & Jerry's in bed, try immediately spot-treating with an oxygenated cleaner and then pre-soaking before throwing them in the laundry.
Don't go to bed with makeup on
Another slightly annoying no-brainer: Since white sheets will inevitably show makeup residue (and oil, and sweat), it's crucial to wash your makeup off before hitting the hay. But there's a built-in perk: Just imagine how clear your skin will get.
Never wash white sheets in cold water
White sheets are high-risk, high-reward. They look gorgeous, but they're pretty much a blank canvas for your bodily fluids (gross but true). According to The Laundress, cold or even warm water won't be effective in removing pesky stains or oily marks from your white sheets. Opt for hot water instead, which will more thoroughly (and hygienically!) clean them.
Skip the chlorine bleach
Bleach, of course, is a great tool for keeping white things white. But that doesn't mean any bleach will do. In fact, using chlorine bleach could actually turn your white sheets yellow, in addition to deteriorating certain fabrics. Save chlorine bleach for cleaning other surfaces, and use oxygen bleach (a.k.a. sodium percarbonate—the active ingredient in cleaners like OxiClean) on your white sheets instead. You can also try refreshing your whites with baking soda, which you might more likely have on hand.
If it's too late and your white sheets are already looking yellow, you can try liquid bluing solution to cool them down.
Don't be mindless with your laundry cycle
You can probably guess that washing your white sheets (with the goal of keeping them soft and white) takes a higher standard of care than, say, washing old t-shirts or towels. When you're laundering a load of white bedding, be mindful of how much detergent you're using; detergent residue can build up and cause your sheets to become dingy quickly. Similarly, review your sheets after the rinse cycle make sure it's properly rinsing the suds away. If not, you may need to run an extra rinse-and-spin cycle, or add a cup of white vinegar to the load right before the final rinse cycle. (White vinegar is a great way to clean your washing machine, too.)