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How to whiten white sheets

Updated July 20, 2017

Nothing is more inviting than a comfortable bed with crisp white sheets. Even with the best laundry efforts, eventually white sheets lose their crisp whiteness and need to be refreshed. Commercial chlorine bleach can cause yellowing or even break down of the fabric. There is no need to get rid of perfectly good sheets or despair over them becoming dingy. A few simple remedies will have them looking pristine and whiter without much fuss.

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  1. Read the label on the sheets. Make sure your water temperature is set to the correct setting for the fabric. It really does make a difference. Load sheets and detergent as you normally would. With the detergent, add a half cup of baking soda. Baking soda helps regulate the pH level of the water and boosts your washing powder to loosen the soil and body oils. When the rinse cycle begins, add a half cup of white vinegar to the washer. The mild acidity of vinegar works as a whitener as well. If possible, hang the sheets outside on a clothesline -- the sun is a powerful whitener for your sheets.

  2. If the label on your sheets allows for temperatures greater than 100 degrees Celsius, the normal boiling point of water, boil enough water to cover sheets completely. Turn off the heat and move the pot from the stove to a safe location where it will not spill or be a hazard to anyone. Add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the water and stir. Add the sheets to the water carefully and allow them to soak overnight. Launder the white sheets as usual the next day.

  3. Many grocery stores, drugstores, and supermarkets sell commercial colour removal kits or whiteners made especially for white fabric. Look for them in the laundry aisle. The products come in powder form, and some can be added to your sheets along with the detergent in the washing machine. The difference between colour removers and whiteners is that colour removers are designed to remove the colour of the fibres of the cloth. This would be an option if your sheets are very dingy or stained. Whiteners are similar to bleach but are not as harsh on delicate fabric as chlorine bleach. Use them according to the directions on the packages.

  4. Tip

    You can also add hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda in the wash to give it an extra boost.


    When using the boiling water method, be sure to keep safety in mind. Check to make sure the product you use is compatible with the fabric.

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Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Detergent
  • Clothesline
  • Colour removal kit
  • Water
  • White sheets

About the Author

Christina Floyd has been a full-time writer since 2009. She has had articles published in "The Bavarian News" and "The Schweinfurt Dispatch." Floyd's expertise includes the medical field, creative writing and the military lifestyle. She has been a student in alternative and herbal therapies since 2010.

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