How To Make White Sheets White Again (The Eco-Friendly Way)

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When I first started dating Mrs. M, I was staggered to realize that sheets should be washed once a week…not once every three months!

I thought I was being a true eco-warrior, saving water and electricity. But, apparently, I was just a stinking layabout!

Fortunately, the stinking sheets didn’t put her off too much, and she even taught me a few tips and tricks on how to make white sheets white again without harming the environment.

Restoring yellowed sheets to their original color doesn't have to mean using harsh chemicals. There are several eco-friendly ways to achieve this goal.

In this article, I’ll discuss a few of my favorites…along with a few killer tips to keep your white sheets looking their best for as long as possible.

6 Eco-Friendly Ingredients To Make Your Sheets White Again

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural and eco-friendly way to make your sheets white again and it actually works on any type of eco-friendly bedding.

It’ll help remove any dirt or stains and leave your sheets looking and feeling fresh and new.

Baking Soda Whitening Method

  1. Add half a cup of baking soda to the drum of your washing machine before adding the sheets
  2. Machine wash on your usual setting

This method can be combined with Vinegar Whitening Method #1 below for enhanced whitening power.

Vinegar

White vinegar is another natural and eco-friendly way to make your sheets white again.

You can use it in conjunction with baking soda or on its own.

Brown vinegar will also work but will leave more of an after smell.

Vinegar Whitening Method #1

  1. Add vinegar to the fill line of the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine
  2. Machine wash on your usual setting

Vinegar Whitening Method #2

  1. Mix together half a cup of vinegar and one gallon of warm water
  2. Soak sheets in the mixture for at least 90 minute
  3. Machine wash on your usual setting

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice contains citric acid, a great natural bleaching agent that can help to make your sheets white again.

Lemon Juice Whitening Method #1

  1. Juice one lemon and add to the detergent drawer with your usual non-toxic laundry detergent
  2. Machine wash on your regular setting

Lemon Juice Whitening Method #2

  1. Mix together a half cup of lemon juice and one gallon of warm water
  2. Soak sheets in the mixture for at least 90 minute
  3. Machine wash on your usual setting

This method is not suitable for silk sheets.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another great natural bleaching agent for making your sheets white again.

However, it’s important to be aware that hydrogen peroxide can damage your sheets if it’s not used correctly. Do not mix it with vinegar or bleach!

Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Method

  1. Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the detergent drawer with your usual eco-friendly laundry detergent
  2. Machine wash on your regular setting

Liquid Bluing

The use of liquid bluing to whiten yellowed sheets is also recommended.

The blue color works to balance yellow undertones, but it fades with each wash.

Liquid Bluing Whitening Method

  1. Dilute your usual detergent in one gallon of warm water
  2. Add one teaspoon of liquid bluing
  3. Pour the mixture directly into the drum of your washing machine and add the sheets
  4. Machine wash on your usual setting

Borax

Borax (also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate) is a mixture of boron, sodium, and oxygen.

It’s a popular cleaning ingredient with various applications, from removing stains and mold to killing insects, eliminating odors…and whitening sheets.

Borax Whitening Method

  1. Mix together half a cup of borax and one gallon of warm water
  2. Soak sheets in the mixture overnight
  3. Machine wash on your usual setting

Perfect Your Method To Whiten Sheets Like A Pro

Any of the basic methods mentioned above will help you get your sheets white the eco-friendly way.

However, to get the very best results, you need to perfect the very best method.

After years of trial and error, this is the Miller foolproof method for getting stained white sheets white again:

Pre-Soak

When the stains are really bad, you’ll need to presoak.

When pre-soaking, always use warm or hot water and leave the sheets soaking for as long as possible (at least 90 minutes and ideally overnight).

The ideal pre-soak solution is 1 gallon of water mixed with ½ cup of one of the following:

  • White Vinegar
  • Borax
  • Lemon Juice

First Wash Cycle

To tackle yellowing and stained white sheets properly, you should be prepared to do two wash cycles.

The first cycle is the main assault, where you clean the sheets and use eco-friendly additives to boost the whitening power of the wash.

This is where you add your choice of natural whitener from the options mentioned earlier to your usual detergent. To recap, you can use:

  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Borax

Then run the washing machine on a cycle as warm as the manufacturing recommendations of your sheets allow.

Second Wash Cycle

Your sheets should now be looking much whiter.

But we can get them even whiter, softer, and fresh smelling with this second wash cycle.

Run another wash cycle (you can use a cooler eco setting this time) and add the following (no detergent needed this time):

  • 1 cup of Hydrogen Peroxide to the detergent drawer
  • Diluted liquid bluing solution directly into the drum
  • Eco-friendly fabric softeners or white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser

Sun Dry

The final step is an important one.

If, like me, you’re lucky enough to live somewhere sunny, dry your sheets outside in the midday sun.

Not only will the sun dry your sheets, but it’ll also help with the bleaching effect and kill any remaining germs and foul odors.

Avoid Bleach

Avoid using traditional bleach when attempting to whiten your sheets.

It’ll leave your sheets stiff and scratchy and potentially smelling of bleach.

Tips For Keeping Sheets Whiter For Longer

ways to make bed sheets white again

  • Wash white sheets on their own or with other white items. Never wash with colors.
  • Wash regularly. Once a week is best for most people.
  • Nighttime sweat causes white sheets to turn yellow. If you’re a hot sleeper, consider changing your mattress to one with cooling properties (such as these eco-friendly or bamboo options) and/or switch to bamboo sheets or a cooling organic mattress protector.
  • Remove makeup before going to bed.
  • Don’t eat or drink in bed.
  • Immediately soak and wash any stains or spills before they have a chance to take permanent hold.

Pillow Cases And Duvets

This article’s ingredients, tips, and methods apply to all white bedding (duvets, pillow cases, etc.), not just sheets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Get Blood Out Of White Bed Sheets?

Blood is a stain that’s notoriously difficult to remove from any fabric. However, if you act fast, you should be able to get it out of your white sheets.

Use cold water and dab with a sponge. Don’t rub. This will cause the blood to set firm.

Once you’ve removed as much blood as possible, machine wash using your preferred method from this article.

How Do I Get Urine Yellow Stains Out Of Bed Sheets?

Follow the tips above for blood, but you can scrub rather than dab.

What Causes Sheets To Stain?

You do! Body oils, sweat, dead skin cells, and dirt all rub off your body during the night.

Another common reason for sheet staining is makeup. If you don’t take your makeup off before bed, it can rub off and cause staining.

Finally, food and drink are also common causes of sheet staining. If you eat in bed or spill something, it can quickly stain your sheets.

How Often Should I Wash Sheets?

Once a week! Or Mrs. M will be round to shake her head and tut loudly! 😁

Do Colored Sheets Last Longer Than White Sheets?

The stains on colored sheets might not be as noticeable, but they’re still there. Plus, colored sheets can start to look old and worn when the color begins to fade.

To keep the color fresher for longer, wash on a cool setting.

How Do Hotels Keep Sheets White?

Usually with a combination of big industrial washing machines, peroxide-based detergents, and added bleach.

Although some hotels don't actually change sheets between guests, which might be more eco-friendly but certainly crosses a line when it comes to hygiene!

Can Vinegar Damage Your Washing Machine?

In my experience, the occasional use of vinegar in a washing machine causes no issues. However, constant use might not be advisable.

The Final Word

There you have it…all the tips, tricks, and hacks you need to make your white sheets look as good as new.

And the best part is that they’re an eco-friendly boost to your regular laundry detergent!

So, not only will your sheets look amazing, but you can also feel good about doing your bit for the environment. Win, win!

Get In Touch

Do you have any tips on how to keep sheets white? Do you have your own DIY recipe for whitening laundry booster?

Or maybe you’ve tried one of the methods in this article, and it worked (or didn’t work) for you? Drop me a line and let me know.

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James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.
James Miller
James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.

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