Spring Cleaning

Better Sleep is Just One Cleaning Project Away

published Apr 3, 2020
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There are two types of spring cleaning chores: “once-in-a-while” tasks, and “better than your routine” refreshes.

Dusting the tops of your kitchen cabinets is a once-in-a-while task; getting at that harmless hidden grime isn’t something you need (or want) to do very frequently. On the other hand, cleaning the bed sheets and linens is one of those “better than your routine” refreshes—you probably wash your sheets regularly, but spring cleaning is an opportunity to do it more thoroughly than usual. There are some ways you can ramp up the task and do some thorough deep cleaning alongside your normal weekend washing—and make your sleep space cozier than ever.

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Day 5 Assignment: Wash Sheets and Linens

Today, or this weekend, set aside some time to strip the beds and do a few loads of laundry. I understand that not everyone has unlimited access to laundry machines right now. So first, I’ll present a complete approach for anyone who can wash all day. Then, an abbreviated “good enough” routine that still allows hand-washers to enjoy a good clean.

If you have access to laundry machines…

  • Strip the bedding from all the beds—that includes blankets, duvet covers (and the comforters inside), pillow cases (and the pillows inside those), mattress protectors, and basically everything you sleep on or between.
  • Sort your linen laundry haul into piles—putting like with like. Make one pile for each load, making sure you don’t overwork your laundry machine. For example, you can wash two pillows at a time, or one queen-size comforter. The sheets can probably all go in one load together. Once you have your piles sorted, get the laundry started.
  • While your laundry is going, clean your mattress on your bed. Vacuum the surface and spot treat any stains. If there’s odor, you can sprinkle the surface with baking soda, let it sit for a few hours (or a few loads), then scoop and vacuum it up.
  • Keep on keepin’ on with the laundry.
  • When everything’s clean, replace your bedding, make your bed, and enjoy the freshest night of sleep you might have all year.

If that all seems overwhelming, or your load size is currently “one kitchen sink worth,” below is a modified hand-washing method you can try. If you only have one set of sheets, start early so you can give yourself time to let everything dry.

If you need to hand-wash….

  • Strip the sheets and pillowcases (and maybe the duvet cover) from your bed. Don’t worry about deep cleaning the comforter insert or pillows right now.
  • Fill your (clean) kitchen sink or bathtub with warm water, then add a few pumps of hand soap to the water. Five pumps is good for a sink full, but you might want to double it for a tub’s worth. If you don’t have hand soap, try shampoo. But skip laundry detergent, as it’s tough to rinse-out when you’re hand-washing.
  • Drop your sheets into the soapy water and leave them to soak for about 20 minutes, sloshing them around with your hands every few minutes. Pretend you’re a washing machine and make silly noises (it’s an important part of the process).
  • After 20 minutes, drain the soapy water and rinse everything under cool water to get rid of any soap.
  • Dry your sheets by hanging them on a drying rack or over the shower curtain rod. If you’re able to air-dry them outside without getting them dirty, do that; the sun should help them dry faster. (That would be near impossible with the pollen in Atlanta right now, but hey, it’s a suggestion.)
  • When everything’s dry (or sooner, if you’ve got a spare sheet set), replace your bedding and make your bed. Go ahead and get in it, too. You deserve a rest!

For what it’s worth, it’s definitely possible to get the former full-bed cleaning done by hand-washing (for instance, you can hand-wash a pillow—especially if you have a bathtub or a large bin), but it’s going to take a lot of time and energy to wash and air dry. Don’t make this too complicated on yourself right now, and focus on what’s doable. You can add “deep clean the pillows and wash the comforter and mattress pad” to your to-do list for later this year.

Here are a few more things that might help: