Should you wash new sheets before using them?

Fresh, luxurious new sheets on your bed invite you to enjoy the relaxing pleasure of a restful night’s sleep. The crisp yet soft fabric against your skin after a hectic day of work, school or home-life offers soothing comfort. Like most people, you may wonder if you need to wash new sheets before using them.

It seems reasonable to think that new sheets taken right from the package are clean and ready for use. However, your sheets should definitely be washed before you or other household members enjoy sleeping on them. The best linens manufacturers recommend accepting this fact over convenient myths to the contrary.  

Why New Sheets Fresh from the Package Should Be Washed

Crisp new bed sheets look spotless and ready for use, yet they usually contain surface chemicals to maintain their freshness. These chemicals can cause allergies and may also result in sheet fabric streaking if not removed. To avoid unpleasant allergic reactions and ensure the beauty of new sheets, take time to wash them before use. 

Important Reasons for Washing New Sheets Before Using Them

Main reasons for washing new bed sheets before you sink into their smooth, inviting comfort for relaxing sleep include the following: 

Eliminate Chemical Residues and Odors

Newly manufactured bed sheets typically have surface residues and odors. Chemical substances applied to keep sheets fresh during shipping can leave chemical deposits in the fabric. Dyes used in sheet color palettes during production also leave residues, and dyes or chemicals can have lingering odors. 

Plastic packaging often used for shipping new sheets to customers can contain harsh chemicals. You may also notice a lingering chemical odor when you first remove your new sheets from packaging. Once you get in the habit of washing new sheets when you first get them, it will seem normal and healthy to do so. 

Measure Fabric Shrinkage

By washing your newly purchased bed sheets right from the package, you can best determine their degree of shrinkage. The majority of linens manufacturers offer preshrunk sheets to their customers. Yet a large number of organic fabrics can shrink more following both the first and second washings. 

If significant sheet fabric shrinkage does occur, you want to know this right away. While the return policy for these bed linens is still in effect, you can return them without any problem. You can exchange these sheets for a larger size, avoiding any concerns about how much new ones will shrink. 

Check for Fading Colors

When you purchase richly colored sheets, you want them to retain their vibrant hues for long-term use and enjoyment. Even light pastel patterns and designs on sheet fabric can become dull and pale if fading occurs. By washing your sheets before sleeping on them, you can best gauge how much they may shrink with subsequent washings. 

If you notice substantial color fading from the first washing of new sheets, consider exchanging them for a different brand. If you especially like the brand of your fading sheets, contact the manufacturer about upgrading to better quality sheets. Since some dyes fade much less than others, you may receive replacement sheets that can withstand frequent washings without fading. 

Detect Color Bleeding

To detect any tendency toward color bleeding in your bright, beautiful new sheets, wash them right away. Dyes that produce radiant, attractive color palettes for sheet fabrics often bleed to some extent. If these colors bleed during use, they can cause skin irritations and discolor your mattress or mattress pad. 

Take the precaution of washing your colorful new sheets separately. If you combine them with other linens in a load of laundry, any color bleeding can stain the other linens. Some bright or dark sheet fabric colors may bleed significantly during the initial washing and only slightly in future washings.

Discover Any Sheets Defects

By machine washing your sheets on the gentle cycle soon after purchasing them, you can detect any fabric flaws. After the first washing, even slight defects such as loose, pulled or puckered threads will be more visible. Any fabric hems that were poorly completed will be obvious. 

Discovering these defects early will enable you to exchange your sheets before use. You can request a replacement order well within the product return period for your sheets. Any evidence of fabric flaws also alerts you to making the wise decision to opt for higher quality sheets.   

Expert Advice and Tips for Washing New Bed Sheets

Should You Wash New Sheets Before Using Them?

As discussed above, we know to wash new sheets to remove any harsh dyes and chemicals from sheet fabric. We realize that the initial wash can also enable us to detect any faulty fabrics or flaws in producing these sheets. Washing also helps us determine the extent to which our new bed sheets will fade or bleed.

If only mild chemicals are used for maintaining sheet fabric freshness during shipping, these substances may be harmless. However, residues of stronger chemicals on sheets may cause respiratory issues to develop in sheet users. If distributors use formaldehyde to prevent moth and other insect damage during shipping, skin irritations, allergies or asthma may result in users. 

For this reason, it is essential to ensure the safe, healthy use of attractive, soft and inviting new bed sheets today. You can wash them using the following guidelines and tips to maintain their beauty and make them safe for sleep: 

  • Add Baking Soda to the Wash Cycle. Start by adding baking soda and natural or mild detergent to the first machine-washing cycle for your new sheets. Any lingering chemicals can be more easily removed from fabrics by the baking soda. For all types of cotton sheets, you can add a cup of vinegar just before the rinse cycle.
  • Use Vinegar in the Final Rinse Cycle. Using vinegar in the final rinse cycle softens sheets and stabilizes colors for cotton sheets, including superb Egyptian Giza cotton. If your new bed linens are made of silk, satin or wool-blend flannel, limit the vinegar to one-eighth or one-quarter cup. For washing strong or dark colors in delicate silk or satin, you can omit the vinegar from the rinse cycle.

Simple Steps for Washing Your Newly Purchased Bed Sheets

For best results when washing your attractive new bed sheets, follow these simple steps: 

  • Set your washing machine on the cold-water cycle.
  • Add natural or other mild detergent and one cup of baking soda.
  • Place your new sheets in the washer and close the machine’s door or lid securely.
  • Just before the last rinse cycle, add one cup of white vinegar.
  • When the machine turns off following the final rinse cycle, remove your sheets. 
  • If possible, air-dry your clean sheets rather than using you clothes dryer. 
  • When using the clothes dryer to dry your sheets, select the tumble cycle and a low heat setting. 

Effective Mild Laundry Detergents for Washing Your Luxurious New Sheets

Gentle cleaning agents recommended by linens experts and consumers for washing your attractive new bed sheets include the following products:

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear Unscented

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear Unscented

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This determent contains a triple-enzyme formula that removes stains very effectively. Completely free of allergens or harsh ingredients, this fabric cleanser is gentle and soothing to sensitive skin. This product is composed of 96 percent plant-based substances and is USDA-certified as a bio-based, gentle detergent. 

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent, Cruelty Free and Biodegradable Formula, Honeysuckle Scent

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent, Cruelty Free and Biodegradable Formula, Honeysuckle Scent

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This biodegradable laundry detergent contains a mild yet efficient concentrated formula. It is made from plant-derived ingredients that provide powerful enzymes for removing dirt and stains. This safe cleanser for fabrics with a soft honeysuckle scent can be used in regular and high-efficiency washing machines. 

Gain Botanicals Plant Based Laundry Detergent, White Tea & Lavender

Gain Botanicals Plant Based Laundry Detergent, White Tea & Lavender

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This gentle laundry detergent is the first Gain brand plant-based cleaning agent for fabrics. As an effective botanical detergent, it has a delightful fresh scent of white tea and lavender. Suitable for use in both regular and high-efficiency washers, this product is gentle on skin ad contains no phosphates.