How to Wash Bedding & Sheets ๐Ÿ› [2021 Laundry Guide]

For most of us, about a third of our entire lives is spent sleeping. This significant time spent in bed often translates to considerable amounts of dead skin, body sweat, oils, and other forms of dirt on our bedding items. Since clean bedding is an essential prerequisite for quality sleep, it’s important to learn how to clean everything, ranging from sheets, pillows, pillowcases, and comforters. Are you concerned about not knowing how to do it? Well, worry not. This guide will take you through some simple steps on how to wash your bedding.

Read the Labels

Every quality bedding item comes with labels pertaining to the correct washing, drying, and ironing practices. However, most of us disregard these labels, often for lack of knowledge and at times, because we think they are not that important. Reading these labels and following the manufacturers’ guide prevents you from ending up with shrunken bed sheets or damaged ones due to mistakes such as high-heat ironing. Still, interpreting the various wash, dry, and iron symbols can be tricky unless you have a guide chart with you. The good news is that such a chart is easily downloadable from the internet.

When it comes to sheets, there are three commonly used materials; linen, silk, and cotton. Others such as bamboo microfiber sheets are also available in the market but not overly common as the three aforementioned ones. Silk sheets are quite durable but better off hand-washed than machine-washed, especially for the first few washes. Additionally, ensure you do not wring these sheets after washing. Instead, pat or blot them using a towel.

Once silk sheets have undergone several hand-washes, you can wash them in the machine using cool water and the manufacturer-suggested detergent. Linen, on the other hand, can withstand higher washing temperatures than silk. Keep in mind that the more these sheets are washed, the softer they become. The only thing to ensure is not to use bleach when washing linen sheets. Lastly, cotton sheets can be washed in the machine using warm water and tumbled dry. There are graphics used to depict these instructions here [1].

How to Wash Bed Sheets

While it may seem quite straightforward, washing sheets the right way actually takes some work.


How often should you wash your sheets? Well, this depends on several factors. However, it is generally advisable to wash your sheets at least once a week.

Getting the Washer Ready

Keep in mind that some sheets, such as those made of silk, need to be hand-washed a few times before they can be machine washed. When using the washer, the first step is to ensure that you do not fit too many sheets into a single washer load. Bed sheets need ample space in the washer to get clean. Additionally, do not wrap bed sheets around the machine’s agitator since they can easily wrinkle and tear.

It is also advisable to wash sheets separately since they can easily stain from other garments’ colors. If you must wash your sheets alongside other clothes, make sure they are of the same color and fabric. The washer setting you choose will depend on how dirty the sheets are. For light stains, use the normal setting and the heavy-duty setting for heavy stains.

Water temperature

Light-colored sheets can be easily washed at any water temperature. However, watch out for materials such as linen that might not do very well under high temperatures. During cold seasons, wash your sheets using the warm cycle since this helps reduce allergens and sanitize the sheets. Dark-colored sheets are usually better off being washed using cold water.

Should You Bleach or Pre-treat?

Usually, pretreating sheets ensures that the small stains that have accumulated on the surface are removed. However, you may need to use bleach for larger stains. If your sheets are not white, make sure to use color-safe bleach, or otherwise, your sheets will get damaged.

Adding the Detergent

If your washer is equipped with an automatic detergent dispenser, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions when loading the detergent. It is worth noting that some machines only work with liquid detergents and need to have the dispenser removed to work with powder detergents. If your machine does not have such a dispenser, please add the detergent to the drum before adding your load of sheets.


Before drying the sheets, it is important to establish the correct dryer settings using the care label. When sheets are dried using overly high temperatures, they can easily wrinkle, shrink, and ultimately have weak fibers. If your machine has a ‘damp alert’ feature, it’s going to come in handy when drying sheets. You can toss in a couple of tennis balls or rubber dryer balls to keep the sheets drying evenly.

If you do not particularly fancy drying your clothes in a machine, feel free to hang them outdoors. However, keep in mind that sheets dried outdoors often feel rougher than machine-dried ones.

How to Wash Bed Pillows

While we easily remember to wash our bed sheets regularly, few of us remember or even think about ever washing our pillows. Yes, pillows need to be cleaned once in a while to get rid of bacteria, dirt, oils, and potential mold and fungi that may accumulate with time. Generally, it is good to wash your pillow at least twice a year.

Here is a pretty simple process to get your pillow clean.

Air Out the Pillow

It is good to make a habit of hanging your pillow outdoors for a few hours every month. Additionally, fluff your pillow each day to get rid of dust and maintain the memory foam shape. If your environment is not conducive for outdoor hanging, then toss the pillow in a dryer using the no-heat setting.

Always Wash Your Pillows Gently

Before washing any pillow, make sure you look at the care label to determine whether and how the pillow should be washed. If your washing machine has a tub that can accommodate two pillows at a go, feel free to toss two in. Doing this will even out the load, letting the water and detergent circulate better. Here is a look at the general wash requirements of the different types of pillows [2].

  • Feather or down pillows: These should be cleaned using a significantly mild detergent and warm water. Liquid detergents tend to stick and leave residues on feather pillows, making them clumpy.
  • Latex and memory foam pillows: These pillows should never be washed. The best solution is to spot-treat any stain when it happens to avoid excessive stain accumulation.
  • Buckwheat hull pillows: These are somewhat easy to wash. Empty the filling onto a large bucket and place it out in the sun to eliminate odors. Once empty, wash the casing using a mild detergent and cold water.
  • Polyester pillows: These ones can be washed on a gentle cycle using warm water. If your machine is big enough, toss in two pillows at a go to balance out the load. Unlike feather pillows, polyester pillows can be washed using liquid detergent.


Unlike bedsheets and pillowcases that quickly dry off, pillows can take quite some time to dry. It is essential to get your pillow fully dry to prevent the occurrence of mildew. When using a dryer, avoid the auto-dry setting since the machine will only detect surface moisture. When drying feather and down pillows, make sure to put the machine on the air-dry, no-heat setting.

How to Wash Quilts, Blankets, and Duvets

Your duvet, blanket, or quilt can easily harbor allergens and dust that ruin your sleep. Unlike bed sheets and pillowcases, though, duvets and blankets do not need frequent washing. Generally, washing these twice or thrice a year should effectively keep dust and allergens at bay. Here are the main steps to washing these heavy bedding items.

Read the Care Label

By now, you have probably figured out that it’s crucial to read the care label. The label’s simple instructions can save you from numerous problems associated with incorrect wash or dry settings. If your duvet or blanket’s label says ‘dry clean only,’ you might want to avoid tossing it into your washer.

Spot-treat Any Stains

Before tossing your blanket, duvet, or quilt into the washing machine, spot-treat any small stains using a diluted cleaning product. You can also make yours using a mixture of water and baking soda. If your bedding item has any loose threads or torn seam, repair it before starting the wash cycle. These loose threads can easily damage your duvet once the machine is running.

Fit is Very Important

When washing large bedding such as duvets, always ensure that the machine’s washing tub has some free room after tossing in the item. If there is inadequate space, some duvets’ filling gets compressed, resulting in an unpleasant result.

Detergent and Washing Cycle Settings

When washing blankets, duvets, and quilts, it is advisable to use a natural laundry detergent or an extremely mild one. Use a delicate cycle on the washing machine and an extra rinse cycle if you can. Use warm or cold water when dealing with bold-colored bedding unless your main aim is to kill dust mites, in which case you can use hot water.

Drying and Fluffing

Once you are done washing your duvet, comforter, or quilt, transfer it to the dryer. You can toss in some fluffer rings or tennis balls to help distribute and even out the filling. The dryer settings should be determined by the instructions given on the care label. Make sure to re-fluff the duvet or blanket every half hour until it is completely dry.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when washing bedding.

Forgetting to Read the Care Label

You have probably already figured this one out. Disregarding the care label on your sheets, duvets, blankets, or pillows is a grave mistake and can easily result in damaged bedding. Always determine how to wash, dry, and iron your bedding correctly.

Overloading the Washer

Washing machines come in different sizes, as do bedding items. For example, you can comfortably fit a pair of small-sized sheets in a standard machine but may struggle to fit a pair of king-size sheets. It is important to always leave some space in the washing bay to allow room for detergent and water circulation. Additionally, ample space prevents agitator-related tearing.

Using Incorrect Washer Settings

Do not confuse having a heavy washer load with having a heavy-duty load. The latter refers to particularly hard-to-clean stains. Unless your bed sheets are extremely dirty, it is advisable to wash them on a regular or normal cycle.

Excessive Drying

Do not be tempted to overly dry your sheets since this will lead to shrinking and excessive wear. Since sheets are significantly larger than most garments, one might be tempted to leave them on extra-dry settings on the machine.

Drying Bed Sheets Alongside Towels

You might assume that your linen towels will dry just as well as your linen bed sheets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Towels are significantly heavier and thicker than sheets and will therefore take longer to dry. This means that the sheets will take longer in the dryer as the towels dry. You then end up with overdried sheets that can easily tear.


Washing sheets, pillows, duvets, and quilts can be quite challenging, particularly due to the considerable size and weight associated with these bedding. However, by following the correct steps and manufacturer guidelines, you can easily get clean bedding for that much-desired quality sleep.


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