I think we would be hard-pressed to find anyone who enjoys stripping a bed and washing bedding – but this lack of enthusiasm often makes us lazy, leading to us making some common bedding laundry mistakes that could be damaging our linens.
We asked cleaning experts and textiles specialists to share their thoughts on what we are getting wrong when doing laundry, and how we can change up our routine to ensure our bedding continues to lull us to sleep, rather than become a waking nightmare.
Bedding laundry mistakes
It can certainly be tempting to shove all our bedding into one wash and hope for the best to help save time when doing laundry, but doing so damages the fibers and leads to uncomfortable nights in bed – or an expensive bill when we have to replace it all.
Here is what not to do.
1. Washing bedding with towels
Bedding and towels are often grouped into the category of household linens and thrown into the washing machine together. This could be destroying the delicate fibers of your best bed sheets, however, warns Anna Brakefield, textiles expert and co-founder of Red Land Cotton.
‘Washing your sheets with the rest of your laundry can create a lot of strain and wear on your sheets,’ she explains. ‘Make the effort to only wash towels with towels, and bedding with other bedding to avoid this preventable damage.
‘Working in this way will also help you to avoid overloading your washer, a practice that will make it easier for sheets to become tangled on the agitator which also wears sheets out more.’
Anna Brakefield is co-founder of Red Land Cotton. Red Land Cotton creates heirloom quality bedding and bath towels crafted from cotton grown exclusively on our family farm and made entirely in the USA.
2. Washing bedding too big for your machine
Speaking of overloading your washing machine, there are some items of bedding that you should never attempt to force into your washing machine – such as washing a comforter or washing a duvet, adds Ron Shimek, president at Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly Company
‘The size of the sheets makes a difference, as does the material they are made of. Ensure you read the washing instructions on the sheets and in your washer's use and care manual. In most cases, blankets, quilts, and comforters are too big to go into your residential washing machine and need to be taken to a laundromat or the cleaners, even though it is extra effort.
‘Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding pillows and blankets. An overloaded machine will not clean as well and could damage the drive mechanism.’
3. Not washing your bedding enough
‘One of the most common mistakes people make is not washing their bedding until there are visible stains,’ Rick Rome, CEO and founder of WashClub reprimands. ‘You should wash your sheets once a week, maybe twice in winter.
‘People typically sleep about eight hours every night, leading to a quick buildup of dirt, sweat, oils, dead skin cells, and odors. The buildup can cause skin irritation and acne, so keeping the sheets fresh is best.’
Parima Ijaz, bedding specialist and founder of Pure Parima, a luxury bedding company recommends following the ‘three-set rule’ to help make regular washing easier: ‘It is essentially having three sets of sheets that you cycle through where you have one on the bed, one in the wash, and one in the closet.
‘This way, you will always have clean linens ready to go without the worry of overwashing your sheets so you can protect them and keep them longer.’
Parima created Pure Parima to bring back real luxury bedding based on their transparency and your valued trust. They hold themselves to the highest standard by sourcing certified raw materials and producing timeless designs to bring back quality bedding that's truly luxurious.
4. Using too harsh a detergent
Bedding is subject to all sorts through its life and can be prone to picking up tough to remove stains. However, ‘harsh detergents aren't necessarily more effective in keeping your sheets cleaner. In fact, the harsh chemicals may react to certain stains and cause them to change colors rather than cleaning them,’ warns Anna Brakefield, textiles expert. ‘If you are worried about stains and normal detergent isn't cutting it, consider using vinegar in laundry instead. This avoids the ‘crunchy’ and stiff feeling that happens over time when you are only using generic detergents,’ she recommends.
‘Avoiding bleach will greatly extend the longevity of your pieces!’
5. Using too much detergent
In a similar vein, using too much detergent can be equally damaging, especially if you are doubling up in an effort to make your bedding more hygienic. While you should never do laundry without detergent, it is vital to measure out the right amount for your materials, and your washing machine itself.
‘If you use too much detergent, the main issue would be the detergent not getting rinsed out of your bedding,’ explains Ron Shimek, president at Mr. Appliance. ‘This could cause skin irritation and might have a gummy or waxy feel to them. Believe it or not, they will also get dirtier faster.’
6. Ignoring pilling
It can be hard to stop your bedding from pilling as we roll around in it all night, but it can be made easier by removing bobbles and lint from your sheets before throwing them in the washing machine, advises Will Cotter, cleaning expert and founder of FreshSpace.
‘Pilling, those annoying little fabric balls, can be a nuisance on bedding. Before washing, take a moment to gently remove any pilling using a fabric shaver or a lint roller. This prevents pilling from spreading and becoming worse during the washing and drying process, keeping your bedding looking smooth and fresh.’
7. Washing on too high a temperature
Hot washes can be great for killing bacteria, but more often than not, they are unnecessary when using a good quality detergent, such as Tide from Walmart.
In fact, washing your cotton linens in extremely hot water for every cycle will harm the cotton fibers and cause the sheets to fade and shrink faster, warns textiles expert Anna Brakefield. ‘Instead, opt for a cool or warm wash cycle and dry cool in your tumble dryer, or air dry, afterward.’
8. Not re fluffing pillows
Whether you are washing your pillows, steaming them, or leaving them out to air, not fluffing them is a common bedding laundry mistake that leads to sore necks and painful shoulders, points out Will Cotter, cleaning expert.
‘Pillows are an essential part of your bedding ensemble, and keeping them plump and supportive is key. Before and after washing, take a moment to fluff your pillows manually. This helps maintain their shape, ensures even distribution of filling, and keeps your sleep experience comfortable and cozy.’
You can also throw in a tennis ball or two, or some laundry balls, such as these from Amazon, to help plump your pillows as they spin in your drum. This is an effective method for breaking up any compacted stuffing.
9. Not checking for damage
After stripping your bedding and before you put your bedding in the washing machine is a great time to check for any damage to your sheets, and many of us are skipping this vital step to prolong their lifespan, cleaning expert Will Cotter highlights.
Whether that means checking for pilling, or running over the seams to check for loose threads and holes, checking for damage will prevent any fixable wear-and-tear from getting worse in a spin cycle, or alert you to the need to replace your sheets – saving you time washing them in the first place.
What bedding can be washed together?
While you should avoid washing bedding with their laundry categories such as clothes or towels, it is relatively safe to wash bedding with other bedding, or blankets. Just be sure to check the laundry symbols on the labels first to ensure that they do not have separate laundry requirements.
Can I put a duvet and pillows in a washing machine?
Many duvets and pillows are now machine washable, making it simpler to do your bedding laundry yourself at home. However, you should be cautious about over-filling your washing machine, as these items get very heavy when wet and may damage your appliance.
You should also always check the care label before laundering these items first, in case they are dry clean only. This will likely be the case if you have down products.
These common bedding laundry mistakes are just one step in a long list of bedding mistakes that make your bed look and feel less luxurious over time. Although it is a bit of a pain to keep track of how to wash each individual piece of bedding, doing so will pay off over time, especially when it comes to your prized linen sets.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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