Stains can be difficult to remove in a standard wash-cycle, these tricks of the trade will have your sheets spotless in no time.
1. Take action as soon as you notice bed sheet stain
We know it can be tempting to leave smaller stains until the next routine wash but your chances of removing them easily and completely are greatly enhanced if you act quickly, before they have the chance to set into the fabric. Start by rinsing the offending patch with cold water (this is important – hot water will set the stain), making sure you thoroughly wet both sides.
While this might be all you need for lighter stains, most will need a little more oomph to send them on their way. Have a look and if there’s any sign of the stain left – even just a mild discolouration – it’s time to enlist the help of baking soda.
Start by mixing one part baking soda with two parts water until you form a thick paste. Apply this to the offending area, which should still be damp from rinsing, and wait for it to dry completely, allowing the paste to lift the stain up and out of the fabric. Once dry, brush off the paste and residue before putting your sheets through the washing machine on a cold water setting. When the cycle’s finished, hang your sheets on the line to dry. It’s important not to use the dryer here as the high temperatures will effectively bake even the smallest reside into your sheets, making it very difficult to remove or reduce in future.
2. To remove a dried stain, soak your sheets for six to eight hours
If you haven’t noticed the stain until it’s dried, then your sheets need to be soaked for up to eight hours before following the process above. The soaking will loosen the stain, making it easier to remove.
3. Use white vinegar to remove stains and neutralise odours
If the stain won’t budge, try soaking it in white vinegar for half an hour. Then put the sheets through a cold wash cycle and line-dry, as mentioned above. If the stain doesn’t disappear completely, repeat the process straight away or next time you put the sheets through the wash and you should see an improvement.
White vinegar is also great for eliminating odours. Add ¼ cup of it to the fabric softener dispenser of your washing machine and let it work its magic. Don’t worry if there’s a slight vinegar smell when your sheets are wet, once they’re line-dried there’ll be no scent left.
Vinegar is also gentle, making it an ideal stain and odour remover for delicate fabrics like our gorgeous Vintage Softwash sheets (which are now available in fitted sheets and fitted sheet packs). Treat oil-based stains differently.
4. Oil-based stains
Stains from make-up, tanning lotions and other body products, require a different approach; namely hot water and a lot of detergent. Prep your washing machine with your normal laundry detergent, then add three squirts of dish-washing liquid and ¼ cup of Borax. If you’re not familiar with Borax, it’s a white powder well known for its ability to remove both stains and odours.
If you can’t find it at your local supermarket, try your local Bunnings. Put 1/3 cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser and select a hot wash cycle. If your machine has a soaking option, even better. Soak your sheets for 30 minutes before the spin cycle kicks in, this will increase your chances of success.
5. Avoid bleach where possible, even on white sheets
Bleach is a harsh chemical, it’s no friend to natural fibres. If you’re really struggling to get a stubborn stain out of white sheets, try an oxygen-based bleach, which is gentler than its chlorine-based option. Remember that bleach – even oxygen-based formulations – should never be used on silk sheets or woollen blankets.
Hopefully, you’ll know what to do next time you destroy your sheets with coffee, red wine, or fake tanning oil. Treating stains correctly and treating your sheets well will extend the life of your bedding; great for your hip pocket and for the environment.
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