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Home & Garden

An Expert’s Guide to Washing Your Bedding

wash bed sheets
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Angie Tang, from on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning service Laundrapp, shares her insider tips for washing your bed sheets, so you can get dazzling results every time.

There’s nothing quite like slipping between some clean, crisp sheets after a long hard day. Sadly, your bedsheets won’t stay in great condition by themselves, and if you want them to look, smell and feel beautiful, you’ll need to give them a little TLC.

Knowing how to properly care for your bedsheets will ensure you don’t accidentally damage your favourite bed linen, and it will help to make them last longer, too.

Whether your sheets are cotton, silk, satin, or linen, this guide will show you exactly how to get perfect laundry results every time.

Check the label


Before you throw those musty sheets into the washing machine, take a moment to check the label. The exact requirements for your bed linen may differ slightly from the advice below, so you should always check the instructions to be on the safe side.

How to wash cotton sheets


Cotton is the easiest material to care for, and all types of cotton sheets usually wash well at 40°C.

If you’re struggling to remove any stubborn smells, or if the sheets smell particularly musty, you can try washing them at a higher temperature (around 60°C) using a specialised stain treatment detergent.

The best way to dry all types of cotton sheet is outside on a washing line: this will give your bedding a wonderfully fresh scent. Of course, this is only possible if the weather is fine and dry, which isn’t often the case here in Britain!

If rain interferes with your laundry day, you can always dry your sheets on a clothes horse indoors. Most cotton sheets will also be fine in the dryer on a medium-low heat setting, and you can iron them while still a little damp to get that crisp, starched feel and smooth look.

How to wash 100% linen sheets


Linen is the traditional choice for bedding, and this light, natural fibre is fairly easy to care for. For best results, wash your bed linen on a gentle 30 °C or 40°C cycle, and avoid using detergents which have optical brightening agents in them, as these can damage the fibres.

The best way to dry linen is to put it in a tumble dryer on a low setting for 10–15 minutes, and then remove it and hang it up to finish drying.

This will help to keep it nice and soft, and allow the creases to drop out a little. Most linen sheets are designed to have a relaxed, naturally rumpled look, so there’s no need to iron your sheets once dried.

But, if you prefer, you can also iron them on a low heat setting while still slightly damp, although you should check the label before attempting this.

How to wash silk sheets


Real silk bedding is perhaps the most luxurious bedding out there, and it feels beautifully soft against the skin.

But, this sumptuous fabric normally comes at quite a steep price and, as it’s a delicate material, you’ll need to take special care when cleaning it.

When washing silk sheets, you should use the cool delicate or hand-wash setting on your machine, preferably inside a mesh laundry bag to prevent snagging.

You should also be careful not to add too much detergent, as this can make silk sheets feel stiff. Some very delicate sheets may need to be dry-cleaned, so check the label carefully.

Look to hang line-drying silk indoors, or use the coolest cycle on your tumble dryer, as it can be susceptible to sun damage.

How to wash satin sheets


Polyester satins are less delicate than real silk fabrics, meaning that these are easier to care for. Most satin sheets and pillow cases can be washed on a 30°C or 40°C cycle (check the label if you aren’t sure).

Be careful not to use too much laundry detergent or fabric softener when washing these sheets, as it can build up on the fibres and spoil that lovely silky soft feel.

You can either hang them up to dry, or use a low heat setting on your tumble dryer until they are only slightly damp and hang them up to allow the creases to drop out.

If you have a silk or satin quilt or throw, look to get this dry-cleaned, as these can bunch up or split in your washer, and they will take forever to dry.

Take these tips on board, and your bedsheets should look and feel wonderful for years to come. Remember, always check the label and, if you’re ever in doubt about how to wash a particular item of bedding, get a professional laundry or dry-cleaning service to take care of it for you!

Angie Tang is from on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning service Laundrapp.