There’s nothing better than sliding into a bed covered in freshly washed sheets, but getting to that end-of-day treat certainly takes effort. Avoid these common missteps to ensure you get a great night’s sleep on laundry day.
1. You wait too long between washes.
Sheets don’t wear like your gym shorts or favorite jeans, but you do spend quite a bit of time in them. And night after night, germs, sweat, and body oils accumulate quickly.
“The longest you should wait before changing out your sheets is two weeks,” says Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “Weekly is even better.”
2. You forget to pretreat any stains.
“If there are no stains, there’s no need pretreat the sheets,” says Forte. “But it’s always a good idea to check pillowcases for makeup residue. A prewash stain remover like Shout Advanced Gel can help get any spots out.”
3. You overload your washing machine.
It can be tempting to dump all of your family’s bedding in one load, but you’ll need to do a couple to get the job done right.
“Sheets needs to circulate to get clean,” says Forte. “Today’s enormous washers can probably hold several sets, but you should never cram them in. And if your washer has an agitator in the middle, don’t wrap the sheets around it. This can cause them to wrinkle or tear. Instead, lay them in separately without wrapping them.”
4. You choose the wrong washer setting.
Choosing a heavy-duty cycle isn’t necessary (unless your sheets are a serious mess).
“It’s fine to wash sheets on the normal, regular, or colors cycle; they will still get clean.” says Forte. “These options are gentler and shorter than heavy-duty and (depending on the machine) will cool water gradually for less wrinkling.”
You should also choose a setting with a cleaning cycle that uses the hottest water safe for the sheets’ fabric (check the care tag). “The hotter the water, the more germs you kill,” says Forte.
5. You let them spin in the dryer too long.
Bedding might take a little longer to dry than a regular load of clothes, but leaving sheets in the dryer longer “just in case” is what can cause them to shrink.
“Over-drying is definitely a problem,” says Forte. “Its best to tumble dry sheets on low heat for the shortest time possible (and yes, this could take some trial and error to get right). This minimizes shrinkage and helps reduce wrinkling, too.”
6. You dry sheets with towels.
Not all linens are created equally, so it’s best to keep very different loads separate to avoid over-drying issues. “Sheets dry faster than towels, so when the sheets are dry the towels will likely still be wet,” says Forte.
If you’re aiming to combine loads, Forte says it’s probably OK to put some light cotton fabrics in with sheets, but towels are problematic.