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Should I wash new sheets before I put them on my bed?

Updated July 19, 2017

Brand new bed sheets are generally wrinkle-free, smell nice and feature deep, rich colours. Every washing-and-drying cycle moves your sheets one step closer to the trash bin, so using bedsheets right out of the package helps prolong their durability and allows the consumer to enjoy the sheets' new look and feel after purchase.

New Sheets Can Contain Irritants

New bed sheets are frequently treated with starch or sizing chemicals during manufacture and sprayed with "finishing" agents such as formaldehyde to help repel stains or minimise wrinkling. While exposure to a small amount of these chemicals likely won't make you gravely ill, it's a good idea to wash your new sheets. Coloured sheets that have not been laundered contain surface dyes or dye residues that can irritate sensitive skin or transfer colour to other bed linens. Most manufacturers recommend laundering sheets before the first use. And many "premium" (high-thread-count) sheets are known to become softer with each washing.

Bottom Line

You need to wash your sheets eventually, so do it when you bring them home and get off to a fresh start. A consumer is generally unaware of variables that can affect sheet cleanliness, such as the hygiene conditions in the factory or packing facility. With the added hazards of chemicals and dyes, why take a chance? Wash those new sheets now, rather than later.

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About the Author

Bruno Fuerte has worked as a writer, editor, manager and internal communications specialist since 1989. His work can be found in "Journal and Courier," "The Times," "Orlando Sentinel" and "The Miami Herald." Fuerte is a graduate of Purdue University, with a Bachelor of Arts in communication.