Wash Your Sheets and Bedding: The Ultimate Guide

Wash Your Sheets and Bedding The Ultimate Guide - Memphis Maids

Hello, we are back after some time! Today we have an article about washing your sheets and other bedding items. There are so many different bedding items: everything from sheets, pillows and pillowcases, comforters, and of course, it’s all sitting on top of your mattress.

Many people, especially young adults, do not know exactly when or how to clean their bedding. In fact, people tend to wash sheets and other bedding items less than they should.

In this guide, you will read the suggested frequency for cleaning your items, and why it is so important to keep them nice and clean.

Why Should You Wash Bedding Items?

We spend close to 8 hours a day sleeping in our beds. That’s a third of our entire day!

When we sleep, there’s a lot that happens without us realizing it.

First, we sweat, which of course is natural, especially on hot, humid days. For example, if you live in Dallas, you know there are times when humidity is extremely high (over 90%) as well as temperature, so there’s a big chance you will be sweating while you’re sleeping. As a natural response, body sweat evaporates and that cools down your body.

Second, we drool sometimes as well, particularly when we snore and/or when we have a good night’s sleep. And third, there are millions of dust mites and bacteria living in our beds, pretty much all the time. You will notice them fast if you have allergies. If you start sneezing as soon as you lay on your bed, it’s a good sign that you need to clean your bed.

Also, your skin will look and feel better as well. As we mentioned, you might find germs, dust mites, dirt, and residues of skin cells, sweat, and saliva. You can take good care of your skin with a daily routine, but it won’t work as nicely if your face and body are in contact with a dirty bed.

Your bedding items have different suggestions for frequency of washing because you are not in contact with them the same way, and the materials are also different. A down comforter won’t absorb moisture and sweat the same as a bed sheet or a pillowcase.

Tidy Bedroom

How to Clean Bed Sheets

Bed sheets are the basic bedding item. Pretty much wherever you live, you need at least a pair of bed sheets.

These will be in contact with your entire body and are usually quite thin, which means they will absorb sweat quickly. You also find dead skin cells and just dirt that was present on your skin or your clothing.

Dust mites are present in bed sheets and can cause a slight skin rash or irritation. They reproduce at prolific rates and feed on dead skin cells.

Now, a good rule of thumb is to wash your sheets weekly. This will keep a nice balance between not overdoing it (and tearing your sheet’s fibers down too quickly) while still keeping it clean and free of bacteria.

This frequency can be increased to 2 or 3 times per week if you have pets or small children that hop up to your bed.

Untidy bed and pillows

Washing and Drying Bed Sheets

As for the actual washing, it’s quite simple. Your bed sheets (most likely) do not need too much detergent, because they are hardly ever stained or greasy. What they do need is a process that kills bacteria and removes moisture and other residues (skin cells, sweat, saliva).

This means that, besides detergent, hot water will be your main ally to wash your bed sheets. The right temperature can depend on the type of material.

Most bed sheets are made out of cotton or polyester. Cotton tolerates hot water, which is perfect because it can really get into the fibers and kill bacteria. That being said, you might want to alternate the temperature between hot and warm water to prevent your sheets from shrinking.

Polyester should be washed with warm water. If you are not sure about the material or if you don’t have the care tag of your sheets, it’s best to play safe and use warm water.

A good rule of thumb for all cleaning is to let products on the surface or material. In this case, letting your sheets soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes will help loosen up the dirt and sweat.

If you have stains, you need to treat them before washing them. If you don’t, hot water will help set the stain, and it will be even worse if you dry them using high heat in your dryer.

Your detergent should be gentle and there’s no need to use fabric softener. Fabric softener is extremely contaminating to the environment, especially to aquatic life. You can use a much simpler product: white vinegar. Just add ¼ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Washing Pillows and Pillowcases

These are one of the dirtiest bedding items you can find. It’s common for us to snore and even drool a little bit directly into our pillows. Besides, our hair has dead skin cells, even dandruff, and bacteria.

First, of all, we need to take care of pillowcases, because they are in direct contact with our bodies.

For cotton pillowcases (which are the most common) make sure you search for any yellowing or discoloration, especially around the area where your head will be.

Use liquid detergent and a stiff brush on that area until you notice the stain disappearing. By doing this, you will avoid setting stains when you wash and dry them.

If the stains won’t come out, you can mix soap with white vinegar, or baking soda (this will form a paste) and let it sit for 15 minutes before brushing. By now, you already know the benefits of baking soda. As always, test first in a small, inconspicuous area.

For the washing process, choose a long cycle and the highest heat setting (again, this is for cotton pillowcases).

For silk pillowcases, you will have to be more delicate. Make sure you use cold water and mild soap that is formulated for silk.

If you’re washing them by hand, start by turning them inside out. Soak your pillowcases in a bowl filled with cold, soapy water. Remember to use silk detergent. After 30 minutes, press gently without wringing or twisting. Remember silk is a delicate material.

After pressing softly to remove soapy water, place a towel on a table or flat surface and then spread your pillowcase on the towel. Start rolling your towel with your pillowcase inside and then squeeze the towel. It will further absorb water. By now, it should be slightly damp and you can let it air dry away from sunlight.

If you are washing them in the washing machine, you need to place them in a mesh laundry bag. This will protect the silk yet still allow detergent to do its job. Choose cold water and a delicate cycle.

How to Wash Pillows

Even after washing pillowcases, sweat and bacteria get through and reach your pillows. For some reason, people don’t wash pillows. In fact, you should wash your pillows at least three times a year.

If you can’t see the care labels, the safest route to go is to soak them in hot, soapy water for a while. This can be done in either a large bowl or directly in your washing machine. Add mild soap and bleach and let sit for 30 minutes. This is ideal for cotton pillows, but other materials such as wool and microbead are better with cold or warm water.

If you have memory foam pillows, you can only spot clean and air dry them. Use soapy water and spot clean your desired area, rubbing lightly. After you’ve covered the entire surface, with a clean, moist cloth, press firmly to absorb excessive soap. Repeat the process with a dry towel to absorb as much moisture as possible. Don’t forget to air dry! You won’t be able to use your dryer, so make sure you are cleaning your pillow on a sunny morning. You want it to absorb as much sunlight as possible, several days if necessary.

Messy Untidy Comforter and Pillows

Washing Down Comforter

A down comforter is not easy to wash at home, mainly due to its size. Make sure you do need to wash it to begin with, and that there’s no other choice. Try laying them out in the sun so they can get some fresh air.

Similarly to pillowcases, you want to use a mild detergent and a delicate cycle. Don’t use fabric softeners, because this will coat the feathers and it won’t be as “fluffy”.

If you notice stains, make sure you treat them before washing them.

If you do use a washing machine, it’s best to use a front-load one because the comforter will be able to bounce and spin inside. This will prevent clumping.

As for drying, you need to use low heat or just no heat at all if possible. Because it will take longer to dry, you can throw some wool balls or tennis balls which will help it dry faster.

Cleaning a Comforter - Memphis Maids

Vacuum and Maintain Your Mattress

Last but not least, we get to the foundation of your bed. The mattress!

Now that your pillows, sheets, and comforters are getting cleaned and dried, you need to make sure the mattress is nice and clean as well.

The first step is to remove your bedding items, of course. Now that your surface is clean, you can vacuum using an upholstery attachment. Ideally, you would use an upholstery cleaner if you have one.

Make sure you clean the sides as well, and, if possible, turn your mattress around because the back will have dust and bacteria as well that needs to be removed.

Once everything is vacuumed, it’s time to tackle other common issues such as stains and odor.

If you have biological stains, it’s best to use an enzyme cleaner. The rule of thumb for stains is to blot instead of scrub in a circular motion because you want the liquid to be absorbed, not spread further. Replace your cloths regularly with damp, clean ones until the stain is removed.

As you know, we recommend microfiber cloths because they are cost-efficient and reusable.

For other stains, you can try using cold water with just a squirt of dish soap. Additionally, you can add one or two tablespoons of white vinegar. Repeat the steps above (blotting with damp towels and then let dry).

Besides regular cleaning, you want your mattress to receive direct sunlight and fresh air. This will help to remove odor as well as mold or mildew.

Cleaning Mattress and Pillows


There you have it! By now you have all your bed sheets, your pillows and pillowcases, your comforter, and your mattress.

Remember to take care of your bed to ensure you are safe when going to bed, and you’ll even sleep better. Your allergies will drop a notch if you have a bed free of germs and mites.

And if you are busy with life, work and family, you can always contact Memphis Maids. Our professional cleaning service in Memphis will take care of your home, including your bedding items!

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