A good question, how do you wash and iron cotton sheets?
Today’s modern and usually hectic lifestyles make it impossible for some of us to stand there hours on end making the sheets and duvet covers look as good as the day you unwrapped them from the packaging, but, we have to wash the sheets at least every week for hygiene reasons so this is unfortunately a necessary evil.
The end result is truly one of life’s little luxuries as you will no doubt agree that there is nothing finer than getting to freshly washed and ironed cotton sheets.
So how can we reduce the time and stress involved in this labour intensive process and still keep our bedding looking clean and fresh all year round?
Cotton sheets and duvet covers are known for being much harder to look after than bed linen made from a mix of material such as polyester and cotton.
Cotton is excellent at absorbing moisture which is vital in creating the ideal sleeping environment as they wick away the heat and moisture from the body but the down side is that if you try to dry them out to much they will crease.
To combat this effect most manufacturers now include an easy-care finish which is part of the dying process which helps eliminate the creasing factor but of you still dry them to a crisp in the tumble drier no amount of easy care will stop them looking like you have just picked them up of the floor.
Washing and drying pure cotton
Don’t be put off buying pure cotton sheets or Egyptian cotton duvet covers as there are a few tricks you can use that will help you make the most out of your washing and drying time.
1: Pre stain treatments
Pre stain treatments are normally very good if your sheets and duvet covers have been soiled in a particular place and not all over.
Accidents in bed do happen such as when you have a drink like tea or coffee, or for the more adventurous, a glass of wine. Cotton sheets are not dyed in the same way as polycotton sheets and the white or colour can be washed away over time if you use a stain treatment that is too harsh.
Cotton is naturally grey so you can expect to see a optical greying of the fabric if this is done too often or if you use an incorrect treatment, also check for colour fastness first. Pre washing is normally better in this instance especially if the stain is over a wider area.
2: Eco setting
Most modern fabrics produced today can be washed on a Eco setting that uses less energy and water during the cycle, if your machine does not have this setting revert back to the wash care label to see what the maximum temperature the manufacturer suggests.
This would normally be no more than 40 degrees and if the sheets are not heavily soiled you can get away from the more environmentally sound setting of 30 Degrees Celsius.
A pre wash is not always required so you save the environment and your electric bill, just go for the eco wash as this is normally more than sufficient.
3: Fabric conditioners or softeners
Fabric conditioners or softeners are not always needed as cotton sheets are soft in the first place, they are only needed if the area you live in has hard water or water than needs to be filtered before use.
Most washing powders have some form of additive in them to make the water more effective so doubling up on this is just a waste of money and more chemicals being flushed down the drains and into our water courses which as we now know is not good for the environment.
Try to wash the bedding once a month without fabric conditioners if you can so it helps the absorbency rate of the cotton stay as good as new.
4: Tumble or line drying?
This is where things can get tricky.
Let’s say you have used the best water and the very best washing powder and the sheets are soft and sumptuous as they leave the washing machine.
How do we dry the sheets without them creasing like mad and driving you insane? For the best results you cannot beat drying the bedding on the washing line, the natural weight of the cotton will remove the vast majority of the creases and the slow dry out period of the wind and sun will stop the cotton from completely drying out.
If you have no choice like living in an apartment or in the depths of winter and you need to use the tumble drier the trick here is to use the lowest setting you can and dry them over time without the use of excessive heat.
Remove them from the tumble drier whilst they are slightly damp, not wet and heavy but still damp and moist. You can them hang them over a door or even dress the bed and within 10 to 15 minutes they will be dry and ready for you to use and they will look and feel great.
5: If you want out of the packet looks every time then you will need to iron the sheets and duvet covers, to achieve the best results and make things easier it is best to iron the bedding while they are still slightly damp.
Trying to iron out creases on dry cotton is not the easiest of tasks and generally will require a commercial ironing press. Wetting the fabric as you iron can help but this is still not going to be as good as pressing them while they are still damp.
Ironing is a skill and it can take you several attempts to find the best way and position, if you have ever tried pressing fitted sheets with the elasticated corners you will know what we mean.
Dry cleaning can be expensive and can sometime damage fragile nature of very high thread count cotton sheets so if you want pristine results hire someone to iron them for you or get out your ironing board and start learning as soon as you can.
Another trick here is not to have your iron too hot and do not leave it in one place for very long, use quick and long strokes up and down the ironing board to get rid of the creases more effectively.