6 Things You Should Never Do if You Have White Sheets

updated Nov 4, 2022
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(Image credit: David Telford)

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 yours to stay that way. Here are a few things to avoid if you want to keep your whites in tip-top shape.

1. 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 if you want to protect their longevity. For your sheets to remain 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.)

2. Don’t eat in bed.

Spilling coffee or dropping chocolate on freshly laundered white sheets is the stuff of 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 ton of laundry time, not to mention protect 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 presoaking before throwing the bedding in the laundry.

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

3. 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.

4. Don’t 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). The Laundress previously told Architectural Digest that 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.

5. Don’t use 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 (aka 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.

6. Don’t mindlessly make your way through 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 launder a load of white bedding, be mindful of how much detergent you use: Detergent residue can build up and cause your sheets to become dingy quickly.

Similarly, review your sheets after the rinse cycle to make sure the suds properly rinse 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.)