January 24, 2024 6 min read

If you own white sheets, you know how challenging it can be to keep them nice and clean. While white bedding adds a luxurious, hotel-like aesthetic to your sleeping space, it’s important to know how to whiten white sheets so that they remain crisp and clean over multiple uses. Exposure to body oils and general use can make your sheets look dull and dingy over time, creating an unpleasant appearance or unsightly yellow stains. Fortunately, we have some helpful tips and tricks to show you how to whiten yellowed sheets to maintain clean, white bedding for a fresh and inviting bedroom.

Factors Affecting Bed Sheet Whiteness

There are several reasons that your favorite set of white sheets could start to become discolored or create a yellow hue. Here are some of the most common factors that may affect the beautiful, bright whiteness of your bed sheets.

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  • Regular use: Exposure to cosmetics, lotions, and body oil and an accumulation of dust mites and dead skin cells will make any white bedding look dull and dingy. Try to shower or wash your face before bedtime to help limit this exposure so you don’t end up with yellowed sheets.
  • Frequent washing: It’s important to wash your sheets on a regular schedule to keep them nice and clean. However, washing them too often or improperly can make the yellowing worse. When your sheets aren’t washed the right way, any stains or discoloration can become embedded deep into the fibers of white fabric, making it worse with every subsequent wash.
  • Exposure to sunlight: It’s said that sunlight is the best disinfectant, but too much exposure to sunlight can backfire. If your sheets are sitting directly under a window, for example, the UV rays from the sun will eventually cause the fibers to break down, creating an unsightly yellowing of white fabrics. Cover your sheets with a comforter or duvet to protect them or close the blinds or curtains during the day to keep excess sunlight out of the room.
  • Stains and spills: If you eat or drink in bed, inevitably, you’ll accidentally spill something eventually. Liquid and food stains are some of the biggest enemies of white sheets, so try to avoid eating or drinking anything other than water when you’re in bed.

Preparing Bed Sheets for Whitening

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Before we dive into how to whiten bed sheets, let’s talk about proper preparation. Start by sorting your sheets by color and fabric. If you have colored sheets, wash them in a separate load from your white sheets so the dye doesn’t bleed into the white fabric. You should also sort the sheets by fabric. For example, if you have white silk sheets and linen sheets, wash them separately. Always wash the sheets based on the care tag or label’s specific instructions.

You should also pre-treat any visible stains before whitening your sheets. After applying a stain remover, it’s a good idea to try pre soaking your sheets in around one half cup of white vinegar for every gallon of hot water. You can also use ½ cup of lemon juice for every gallon of hot water, or about a half cup of borax for every gallon of hot water. Make sure you soak the sheets for at least an hour before washing them.

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Natural Methods for Whitening Bed Sheets

If you’re wondering how to whiten yellow sheets without harsh chemicals or synthetic laundry detergent, give these DIY methods a try.

Lemon juice and sunlight

  • Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent thanks to the citric acid it contains. You can use lemon juice if you want to know how to whiten sheets without bleach.
  • Take the juice of one lemon and pour it into your washing machine along with your regular detergent, then machine wash the sheets as usual.
  • You can also mix half a cup of lemon juice with a gallon of hot water (don’t use this on silk sheets), then soak them for a few hours or in the solution overnight. Afterward, remove the sheets and wash them as usual.
  • To spot-clean your sheets, apply the lemon juice/water mixture directly to the stained area, then wash the sheets. You can also air dry your sheets in the sun to help them bleach naturally.

Baking soda and vinegar soak

  • Whiten sheets with a mixture of ½ cup baking soda added to the drum of your washing machine.
  • Add some white vinegar to your fabric softener dispenser, but make sure you keep the baking soda and vinegar separate. Once you add these ingredients, you can machine wash the sheets as usual.
  • Another method is to mix ½ cup of vinegar with one gallon of hot water and pre soak your white bed sheets for at least an hour for optimal results. Next, machine wash and air dry them to remove any leftover vinegar smell.

Whitening Agents and Commercial Products

Many people use bleach to keep their sheets white, but it’s not always the best option, since the chlorine in bleach can interact with sweat stains and protein stains and make the problem worse. However, you can use bleach to remove yellow stains if you have no alternative. It’s important to use bleach properly to whiten dingy sheets. Always start by washing the sheets with regular laundry detergent, then add no more than ½ cup of bleach to the drum of the washing machine before running another regular wash cycle. If the bleach smell persists, run another cycle and add some hydrogen peroxide to your regular amount of detergent. Try to use non chlorine oxygen bleach for the best results.

There are also some high-quality laundry detergents available on the market that are specially formulated to wash and brighten white sheets. Products like OxiClean work well. White Revive from OxiClean is a great alternative to chlorine bleach (it contains oxygenated bleach) and helps remove stains while brightening white or light-colored fabrics. Whatever product you choose, make sure it doesn’t contain chlorine, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Borax also works well to wash white sheets. The sodium borate in Borax is a natural mineral compound that helps to remove yellowing, stains, and discoloration without harming the fabric.

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Tips for Maintaining Whiteness

Here are some quick tips to help you maintain your beautiful, bright white sheets:

  • Wash your bed sheets frequently to keep them clean and to prevent the buildup of body oils, sweat, and dead skin cells.
  • Always use a color-safe bleach alternative or a non chlorine bleach to keep sheets white without damaging the fabric and add it to the machine’s bleach dispenser.
  • Avoid overloading your washing machine to ensure that your sheets are cleaned thoroughly.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

It’s important to know how to troubleshoot some common issues you might face if you have white sheets.

  • Address stubborn, persistent stains by using one of the methods we’ve mentioned to keep your sheets clean and white.
  • You may deal with some fabric discoloration over time, which is normal. However, you can remedy a yellow tinge by soaking your sheets in one of the mixtures above like a half cup of baking soda and some white vinegar, or using lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide.
  • If you notice that your white sheets still have discoloration or stubborn stains after trying these methods, it might be time to take them to a professional cleaner.

Final Thoughts on how to whiten bed sheets

If you want to know how to whiten yellowed sheets, remember the tips from our guide. Whether you use special laundry products or try something natural like vinegar and baking soda, taking the proper steps will keep your beautiful sheets crisp and white for years to come. Having consistently white bed sheets gives your bedroom a clean, luxurious look and feel. Be sure to shop the collection of quality bedding at Or & Zon to give your bedroom a brand-new look.