There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when slipping into beautiful, crisp, white sheets at the end of a long day. It can be quite disappointing to watch your beautiful white bed linen turn a not-so-attractive shade of yellow over time. There are several reasons why this might happen:
build up of body oils and sweat
discolouration caused by skin care products containing benzoyl peroxide or alpha hydroxy acids
improper storage in plastic or cardboard boxes or on wooden shelves
exposure to nicotine smoke or greasy cooking residue
using too much, or poor-quality detergent and/or fabric softener
overloading the washing machine
not washing frequently enough (every 7-10 days is recommended)
using chlorine bleach
Did the last of those surprise you? Chlorine bleach is quite harsh and can degrade the fibres and shorten the lifespan of your bed linen. If you use it regularly, it can actually turn your sheets more yellow as it reacts with body oils and proteins present on the fabric.
So if you shouldn't use bleach on your premium cotton sheets, then how do you keep them as white as the day you bought them? The answer is simple, inexpensive and environmentally friendly to boot: baking soda, vinegar, dish washing liquid and lemon juice, all basic items which you likely already have at home.
Baking soda and vinegar can safely be used for every regular wash, this will help keep your bed linens white and bright. Both will also soften your sheets without damaging them like fabric softener does, so are a great natural, eco-friendly substitute.
1/4 cup baking soda added together to a small amount of mild liquid detergent (about half the manufacturer's recommended dose).
1/2 cup vinegar added to the rinse cycle. Just add to the fabric softener compartment of the washing machine, or if your machine doesn't have one, add directly to the wash once the rinse cycle has started.
Wash in cool to warm water, preferably on a gentle cycle.
If your sheets have already yellowed, try the following method:
1 cup vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp dishwashing liquid
Dissolve all in a tub of warm water and soak for at least half an hour. Remove and do a regular cool water machine wash.
Soaking overnight in a borax solution can also help bring dingy sheets back to life again.
And finally, you can try adding a little bluing to the wash. Available in the laundry aisle of your supermarket and is probably the oldest trick in the book. The blue counteracts the yellow hue and gives the optical illusion of bright white.
We recommend that you dry your newly washed sheets outside in the sun. The sun's ultraviolet rays have a bleaching effect, helping to keep your white sheets white. Plus they'll smell amazingly fresh! But don't leave them out in the sun too long as prolonged sun exposure can also turn fabrics yellow and causes colours to fade.
That's it. Simple, cost effective and natural way to keep your bed linen perfectly white so you can enjoy their fresh and crisp look and feel night after night. Enjoy!
View ourHeavyweight Cotton Percale Sheets in White Timeless and classic, goes with everything - you can't beat white bedding for versatility. Take a look at our thicker, crisper sheets for hotel-style comfort.
Note: Hot water can be quite effective at removing stains. We do not generally recommend this because hot water can be harsh on cotton, especially on premium fine yarns. However if nothing else has worked and you are considering discarding your linens, then as a last resort you could try using the above methods with hot water up to 60 degrees Celsius. The same applies for chlorine bleach. Run your sheets through a regular wash first before running a second wash with a small amount of bleach.