Should I Wash New Sheets?

should I wash new sheetsYou just bought some comfy new sheets. On the bed, they smell so fresh and feel so crisp – such a change from the tired-looking yellowed sheets you used to sleep on! You just can’t wait to sleep on them tonight. Suddenly, you ask yourself “Should I wash new sheets?” You will find out the answer to that question in the post.

Should I Wash New Sheets?

Well, yes, you should.

Even though they came wrapped in a thick vinyl package, and appear clean, they should be washed.

Why Do New Sheets Need To Be Washed?

Some people get that new bed sheets itchy feeling.

Most fabric has a starch used to make it look crisp. That’s called sizing.  And you want to get that out of your sheets before you sleep on them.

Manufacturers also can use other chemicals like formaldehyde to keep moths and other bugs from getting in them. And you definitely don’t want to be sleeping on that.

What’s The Benefit To Washing New Sheets?

There are 2 reasons:

  1. The sheets will have a much better feelOften, new sheets are scratchy like sandpaper. Once laundered, they will be softer.
  2. They will smell a lot better without the sizing and being trapped in vinyl. You don’t want your new sheets to have a chemical smell.

If you love the feel of new sheets, you can either iron your sheets every time you wash them, or you can read our article on keeping your sheets crisp and clean.

So now that I’ve answered your burning “Should I Wash New Sheets?”, go back to your bed and rip those new sheets off. Head towards the laundry. 

If you ever want to recreate that experience where you’ve slept in a hotel and the bed sheets were wonderful, I hope the information I am going to share in this post will help you get there.

new bed sheet itchy

Corrinne Lucas, Gateway Inn housekeeper, lays out new sheets. Image source

Washing Sheets For The First Time

How thorough do you need to be – these sheets are brand new!

When washing sheets for the first time, consider how thorough you want to be. There is a debate raging amongst domestic goddesses about whether you should wash new sheets in a different way to your normal washing of linens or the same way. How do you feel about this?

Some people feel that the sheets are basically clean, and you’re just removing the chemicals and their odors. This camp just wants to rinse the sheets through their washing machine.

Others feel that you should wash the sheets the way you will always wash them to ensure the sheets are of good quality and can stand up to normal washing. This type of washing is more thorough than just rinsing.

Here’s what I recommend

I always wash sheets the first time the way I will be washing them. Some fibers like cotton will shrink over time. So I want to know right away if the sheet will fit my mattress sooner rather than later.

I also prefer washing my sheets completely before I use them because I like dark colored sheets. I want to ensure that the extra dye is out before sleeping on them. The last thing I want to have happen is to wake up covered in dark blue or green stains from where I sweated that night!!!

Also, just rinsing the linens won’t necessarily soften the fibers.

If you have sensitive skin or have eczema like me, the answer to the question “Should I Wash New Sheets” is “Yes” and do so thoroughly! It is so disappointing to have looked forward to the experience of slipping in between those fresh and crisp new sheets, only to find you start scratching when you are meant to be drifting off to sleep! I take washing sheets for the first time very seriously because I want to avoid the “new bed sheets itchy feeling”.

Some tips to keep your sheets clean and soft

Here’s a couple of tips I’d like to share with you. You can use these tips when washing your sheets for the first time or every time.

  • If you prefer softer sheets, then soak in your washer with ½ cup of baking soda for thirty minutes before you run your normal wash. Some people prefer to use salt instead in the wash to help the detergent do its job. Either way, use warm or cool water.
  • Vinegar during the rinse cycle is great for all sheets to ensure that the detergent is completely rinsed out leaving your linens softer and cleaner.
  • If you love colored sheets, you will want to set the color on the first wash. Soak the sheets in cold water with a mixture of ¼ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar for thirty minutes before you run the first wash. That will set the color and prevent it from running. And it will keep the color brighter for longer.
  • Finally, if you want bright sheets, use a laundry detergent enhancer like borax or sodium percarbonate (brand names are Boraxo and OxiClean in case you were wondering).  
  • Over the life of you sheets, you may see them develop some yellow stains. Read How To Get Yellow Stains Out Of White Sheets.

So in summary, to get rid of the new bed sheets itchy and scratchy feeling, when washing your sheets for the first time, throw in some baking sofa before your normal wash and add vinegar during the rinse cycle.

What About White Sheets?

If you have white sheets, you can use bleach. But you can’t use bleach if you have colored or printed sheets. In fact, some people have concerns about using bleach period. I know I do. OxiClean and others like it also have hydrogen peroxide which is a natural bleaching agent that brightens colors.

You definitely want to read How To Wash White Sheets? I also talk about using ammonia to clean and sanitize sheets. Never mix ammonia with bleach, however: the gas is POISONOUS

In my How To Wash White Sheets article, I also talk about ensuring you don’t overfill your machine.  To get anything really clean, it needs to have enough water to remove dirt and oils, and then rinse away all the detergent.

Use warmer water in the wash and cooler water in the rinse.  You can also add in white vinegar in the rinse to ensure that all the detergent gets rinsed out of the linens.

washing sheets for the ifrst time

Image source

What Detergents Are Best?

What I look for when buying detergents

I’ve done a lot of research to find eco-friendly and non-toxic detergents for my laundry. There are a few things to look at.  

First is the cost per load. Some bottles of more natural detergent seem expensive, but you need less of it to get your laundry clean. I won’t be listing the cost per loads I’ve found here since prices change.  I just want you to know I looked carefully at this so you’ll be getting good value as well as great cleaning power.

Next is if it’s really eco-friendly or if it’s just a label put on by the manufacturer. There are a lot of loopholes that companies use to get “natural” put on their label.  Arsenic is natural!!! What I look for are certifications to verify the genuineness of claims on the packaging.

Then I looked at how well did it really clean. Because you’re not saving money if you’re not getting clean linens, right?

Finally, I prefer scent free. I know others don’t feel that their laundry is fresh and clean unless it has a scent.  So I’ll put up a few for you to check out.

My top 3 recommendations

First, I like Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent. My family has sensitive skin, and this has been the best for a natural detergent that works well without itchiness.  It’s certified to be 97% plant-based. And it’s cleaning power is comparable to the big names. Seventh Generation has been around a long time, and is a reputable company.

Next up is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Laundry Detergent. It’s also certified as being 97% plant based.  It has great cleaning power that’s similar to big names like Tide. The downside?  You have to choose a scent, which may not be a downside to you. There are eight scents to choose from. So if you like going to sleep with the smell of lavender, this could be your best bet. What I really find amusing is that there really is a Mrs. Meyer!!

Finally, there’s Molly’s Suds. It’s extremely concentrated and you need only 1 tablespoon per load.  It’s specially designed for sensitive skin and is chemical free. The brand also has oxygen whitener powder as well.  The founder was motivated to create a line of laundry products that were as natural as possible after she had a stillborn child. The cleaning power is comparable to the big brands.

Should I Wash New Sheets – Yes, But How Often?

We went into detail about this in How Often Should I Wash My Sheets? A good rule of thumb, depending upon your body and personal preferences, is every two weeks.

You might be thinking why so frequently (but I hope you’re not!!)?

Your body sheds oil and dead skin all the time.  When you’re sleeping, they get absorbed into your sheets. So it’s important to wash sheets at least every two weeks to remove that build-up.

We also sweat when we sleep. That gets our odor into the linens. And so if you enjoy climbing into a sweet smelling bed, you may want to wash your sheets more frequently.

How many sets of sheets do you need keep on hand?

A good rule of thumb is to have three sets of sheets to rotate. That’s one set on the bed and two stored away.

That will ensure the colors stay brighter, and you’ll always have a clean set of sheets to make your bed.

What about pillowcases?

One quick note is that if you have acne, you should change the pillowcases every two to three days.

I always keep six sets of pillowcases on hand.

Should You Wash the Other Bedding?

You should always wash new linens including pillowcases when you first get them.

You should also wash the mattress cover and duvet cover.  

If you use pillow shams, those should be washed as well.

Blankets are honestly up to you.  They won’t be directly against your skin. I would read the manufacturer’s recommendations first.  If nothing else, you may wish to rinse the blanket in cold water and some baking soda just to get it free of the formaldehyde and other chemicals.

What About Comforters?

Comforters are more difficult due to their bulk.  You can easily wash the duvet cover and leave the comforter alone so it stays more fluffy.  

You can run the comforter through the dryer with some tennis balls if it ever needs to be fluffed up again.

Many people wash their comforters twice a year. And they bring them to a laundromat to take advantage of the larger, industrial washers and dryers.

You can wash your comforter in your own washing machine if you use the setting for heavy material.  It doesn’t agitate as quickly.

When Do You Need New Sheets?

When your sheets have rips, or you can see through the sheets because they’ve worn thin, it’s time to go linen shopping.

No matter how much you love them, you deserve to have nice sheets.  Just get a few sets when you go shopping. And buy extra pillowcases.

If you’re looking at overhauling all your bedding, take a look at this post When Should I Replace My Mattress?

What About Pilling?

Pilling shows up on cheaper sheets because the fabric wasn’t consistently woven.

Some people report that pilling occurs when you wash your sheets with too much agitation in the washing machine and at too high a temperature. 

There is a balance involved with the water temperature. If you want really clean and sterilized sheets, you need hot water. If you want the fabric to last longer, you need to use warm or cool water.

So what can you do about them once you have them?  You can use a sweater comb that removes pills from sweaters to help.

It’s a Wrap

“Should I wash new sheets”? Yes, I recommend you do to really make sure that your new sheets are as clean, soft and smelling fresh as possible. This will optimise that new sheets experience and remove the chance of the new bed sheet itchy feeling.