There is something comforting and inviting about white bed sheets. Maybe it is the crisp, clean appearance or the fact that they work with nearly every room style, modern, traditional or vintage. However, many people avoid purchasing white sheets because they are concerned that they won’t be able to keep those white sheets white. Well, we decided to ask the experts how they keep white sheets white. Who better to ask then hotel laundry experts and people who have been selling sheets to hotels for over 122 years? There’s nothing like sleeping in a luxurious hotel bed. We have gathered these helpful tips for maintaining bright, white sheets. Some of the answers will surprise you and some are right in your kitchen.
Why Do Hotels Use White Sheets?
If hotels used darker-colored sheets it would be much harder to tell if they are clean. When you look at a white duvet cover or sheet, you can instantly tell its clean. Rooms with white linens have a luxurious look and feel fresh. White sheets are also easier to clean. When everything is white, you can wash it all together. You don’t need to sort or separate. Plus, you never need to worry about some of the colors bleeding or fading.
Only wash with other white items-Whites have their own wash settings so washing whites together keeps them in better shape and is key to keeping them white. If you’ve ever thrown a new red t shirt into the washing machine with clothing items that were a completely different color, you may have had the misfortune of seeing everything you were washing turn red. Water and stain fighting detergents can actually loosen some of the dyes in fabric, which can then settle into the other fabrics in the washing machine and stain them.
Spot Cleaning-No amount of professional equipment or detergent can remove stains as effectively as spot cleaning. That is why hotel laundry staff inspect discolored linens and separate them for spot cleaning.
Special Stains-Pre-treat with a stain remover (oxygen or enzyme-based products like Oxiclean) soak and wash them using cold water.
For greasy stains, time is your friend. The sooner you tackle the stain the more likely you will remove it. For really tough stains hotels will put the laundry in a big pot full of the perfect combination of laundry detergent, baking soda, and cold water. They then boil the linens for half an hour and wring them out.
Detergent- When it comes to white sheets, having less detergent residue on them helps keep them bright, which is why natural detergents often work so well because less chemical residue is left behind. One of the most well-known secrets of the hotel industry in keeping their sheets clean and white is using peroxide-based detergents. These types of detergents are highly effective but less caustic than bleach. Peroxide-based detergents even help prevent white sheets from graying or yellowing. Hotels are also careful about laundry soap use. They calculate the amount needed to distribute evenly in the wash. Using too little or too much won’t properly clean the sheets. Laundry experts suggest adding a half cup of natural whiteners such as baking soda, borax or white vinegar to the rinse cycle which will activate with the water and laundry detergent to keep your sheets looking brighter and will also help pull out any stains. This will also protect them from any detergent residue that can make them turn yellow in the long run.
To bleach or not to bleach-Most people assume the only way to clean a white sheet is with bleach. And while bleach will certainly get the job done, it may not be the best way to go. Used improperly, it can weaken the fibers of your sheets and make your linens vulnerable to tearing and ripping. While these chemicals are truly effective in preventing white linens from greying or turning yellow, they do require some level of expertise. Also hotel bedding gets switched out and completely replaced quite often. So, hotels are not as worried about damaging a sheet because replacements are close by. Theo Miles, quality control manager for Thomaston Mills for over 50 years does not recommend chlorine bleach for home use but peroxide or peroxide based non chlorine bleaches such as Oxiclean or Clorox 2 work well.
But do they wash in hot water? -No, hotels use cold water on most linens. Hot water breaks down the fibers faster, which can get very expensive for hotels where sheets very often get washed every day. Most people think that washing linens with hot water is the best way to clean it, but it actually isn’t.
You should also make sure that your washing machine is correctly loaded.
This not only puts extra stress on your washing machine, but it also doesn't give as thorough of a clean. If you overload, your detergent won't distribute evenly. There is not enough room for your sheets to move around during the wash cycle. To get truly cleaned, your sheets need to be agitated enough to get that deep clean you need so stains do not get missed.
Per Rodrigo Patron, operations director from family-owned linen supply company Lace House as last tip would “always recommend following instructions on the tags of the sheets.”
Try a lower dry setting. Intense drying can wear out fabrics faster. Fabrics can be worn out more quickly if they are dried quickly. Add wool dryer balls made in the USA to the dryer to reduce dry time and wrinkles and keep you sheets fresh and soft.
Extra tip-Add a few drops of lemon or relaxing lavender oil to dryer balls to help keep linens smelling good.
Better yet, if you have time and space, hang your sheets in the sun. Line drying makes less of an impact on the environment and saves energy. Of course, line drying is not used by hotels due to the quantity of laundry they have but it is a great trick to be used at home.
Professional hotel laundry methods include careful drying so they go into storage neither damp nor overheated or overdried, which can affect the integrity of the sheets’ fibers. Any trace of leftover moisture on linens in storage is a surprising source of yellowing and staining. A sheet set looks much better when it's folded immediately out of the dryer and does not sit overnight. The fabric has time to settle and won't wrinkle nearly as much. Another trick is to take the sheets right out of the dryer and put them back on the bed to help avoid wrinkles.
Bonus Tips to keep sheets clean
Take a shower before bed-From deodorant to makeup to sweat, body oil, and actual dirt, humans get dirty during the day. When you take all of that residue and wrap it in a white sheet, you can probably guess what is going to happen.
Get Snoopy his own bed-Pet dirt can be difficult to remove from white surfaces. Pets may be cute, but they probably have some dirt and natural oils clinging to their fur (the fur they are not shedding on your sheets). So, get your pet their own bed or place a blanket onto their favorite side if you just can’t sleep without them.
Your bed is not a table-Yes, salsa or chocolate or better yet red wine spilled on white sheets will stain.
Strip your sheets (it’s not what you think)-Laundry stripping involves soaking laundry in a tub along with a mixture of borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent. It removes dirt and oils from fabrics and the film that makes them look dingy, bringing the brightness back.
Yes, wash your sheets weekly-You really should be washing your sheets once a week, as your natural body oils can begin to build up, and become more difficult to remove during washing.
We recommend purchasing high-quality made in USA white sheets which can be a bit of an investment, but it’s worth it because they last longer. By incorporating these simple tips, you too can keep your sheets whiter and create that luxurious relaxing hotel experience.