Keeping bedsheets clean and lint-free shouldn’t be that difficult, right? You wash them every two weeks, use softener, and pray for the best. But what happens when those white bedsheets that you worked so hard to clean turn yellow? Can you get rid of the stains, and could you have prevented them in the first place?
Luckily, the answer is yes. Here are all of my tricks of the trade for getting the yellow stains out of your sheets and keeping them gleaming white.
Why Your Bedsheets Turn Yellow
Most often, your bedsheets turned yellow because of your bodily fluids. No matter how hot or cold you run during the night, you’re bound to sweat a little bit.
Every time you sweat, the moisture leaves your body, sticks to the sheets, and creates a stain. While you’re sleeping, you’re also leaving dead skin cells, as well as saliva on your linens.
Another reason why your sheets might have turned yellow are the lotions and creams you use before you go to bed. If you want to prevent yellowing, you should avoid using skincare products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids and benzoyl peroxide.
In addition to sweat and skincare products, your linen-washing habits could be costing you sparkling white sheets. If you’re often overloading your washing machine, the detergent can’t penetrate the fabric and clean it properly.
How to Clean Yellowed Sheets
Don’t worry, even if your bedsheets turned yellow, there are plenty of things you can do to get rid of the discoloration.
Before you get to using hardcore products and detergents, you should try some natural cleaners first. They’re cheap, easy to use and come by, and just as effective as the commercial stuff.
Lemons and lemon juice are natural bleaching agents, readily available in any market. For this trick, all you need is a big pot, water, and a few lemons.
First, start by slicing up a few lemons into quarters. Then, fill the pot with water, throw the lemon slices in, and leave it to boil.
Once the water has come to a boil, turn your stovetop off, move the pot, and gently put your bedsheets in it. I recommend using tongs to put the sheets in to avoid burning yourself. You should leave the sheets to soak for at least 15 minutes, although a full hour would be better.
When enough time has passed, take the sheets out, put them in the washing machine, and use the detergent you usually would. Of course, you should wash them on the highest temperature to ensure that they’re sanitized.
Now, you might’ve heard that boiling sheets with either lemons or baking soda works for yellow stains. While that is somewhat true, I recommend doing it only as a last resort if all else has failed. Boiling sheets can damage them, especially if you have something with a high thread count.
Just like lemons, white vinegar is a natural bleaching agent that you can use for cleaning toilet seats, laminate floors, and more. If your sheets have a detergent buildup, you can put half a cup of distilled white vinegar into the detergent dispenser and run a cold rinse.
On the other hand, to get rid of the yellowing, I recommend putting a quarter of a cup of vinegar in the softener dispenser. By doing so, the vinegar will do three things:
- Bleach your sheets
- Make them soft
- Get rid of any odors
Baking soda is a natural and cheap alternative to bleach. You can use it on its own or combine it with white vinegar for even more spectacular results. For a regular wash, I recommend putting a quarter of a cup of baking soda with your detergent in the dispenser.
But if it doesn’t work the first time, you’ll have to repeat the process with vinegar. Again, put the same amount of baking soda and detergent in the first dispenser and half a cup of white vinegar in the other one.
If you can, leave the sheets to air dry when they’re done. The effects will be even better, and the smell of vinegar will dissipate much faster.
Now, if you don’t want to bother with boiling lemons, you can go for some of my favorite commercial cleaners.
Le Blanc Linen Wash
Le Blanc is a pretty strong detergent and stain-remover that you can use on sheets, clothes, and table linens. It doesn’t contain any bleach, phosphates, or sulfates, and it’s supposed to preserve the fabric.
On Amazon, you can buy the Le Blanc wash in seven different scents, and each bottle is 64 fl oz. One thing to keep in mind about this linen wash is that it won’t work on heavy-duty stains or yellowing.
Instead, I suggest using it the first time you spot your sheets are changing colors. Also, you should keep using it to protect your linens in the future. But for the optimal results, you can pair the Le Blanc wash with some other methods, like baking soda or lemons.
The bluing method is basically what it sounds like; you add a blue tint to your load of whites. Now you might be wondering, ’Why the hell would I want to turn my sheets blue?’
Well, by adding trace amounts of blue in your yellowed sheets, you can counteract the effect. The bluing method has worked like a charm for me every single time I’ve tried it, but one thing I’ve learned is that you have to be careful with the dosage.
Make sure you read the instructions on the bottle before you start the process since each product requires different levels of dilution. My two favorite bluing products are the Bluette and Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing.
Using Cascade powder to do your bedsheets is actually an old restaurant tip I’ve recently found and loved. Apparently, waiters and kitchen staff often use the powder to keep their jackets and aprons sparkling white.
You can start by filling a pot with water and boiling it. Once you take it off the stovetop, put a big scoop of Cascade powder, and gently put your linens inside.
Just like with the lemons, I recommend leaving the linens inside for about an hour. Then, take your sheets out of the pot, put them in the washing machine, and launder them as you usually would.
Since Cascade is pretty harsh and obviously meant for your dishes, and not sheets, use this method only as your last resort. Also, make sure not to soak your sheets for longer than an hour because the powder can seriously damage them.
Why Bleach Isn’t the Answer
Now, I know that your first reaction might be to try and bleach your sheets, but that’s probably the worst thing you could do. Bleach contains chlorine, which has a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with bodily fluids. Once that happens, it can create even more stains or make the ones that were already there worse.
What’s more, bleach is extremely abrasive and can degrade your bedsheet fibers. So not only will it make your linens more yellow, but it will also reduce their lifespan.
How to Prevent Sheets From Turning Yellow
Now that you know how to get rid of the yellow stains, it’s vital that you learn how to stop it from happening in the first place.
I know washing your sheets regularly sounds pretty obvious, but it’s one of the best things you can do. By doing so, you’ll be getting rid of the oils and fluids left on the linens before they start settling in. If you want to learn more about washing sheets and when to do it, take a look at this article I wrote.
Use a Detergent Booster
If you’re worried that your sheets will become yellow no matter what you do, you can use a detergent booster every once in a while. The two best options here are Borax and OxyClean because they can easily cut through the oils and fluids.
However, use these products sparingly and only when you really need them. Otherwise, you’ll be cutting the lifespan of your sheets by half.
Dry in the Sun
Drying your sheets in the sun can add to the lighting effect in white sheets. Not only will doing so get rid of the yellowing, but when combined with some other methods, it can also protect them.
If you want to clean your sheets properly, make sure to wash them at the highest recommended temperature. Also, before you even put them through the wash, rinse your linens for a couple of seconds in cold water. When you do this, you can dilute the stains and oils a bit and ensure that they don’t settle.
As you can see, white sheets turning yellow is a pretty common thing, and it can happen to anyone. However, by taking some pre-emptive measures and using the right products, you can avoid this unsightly process in the first place.
Even if the worst has happened and your sheets are now yellow, it’s nothing to worry about. You can use a couple of household items or commercial products to rid yourself of the problem for good.