How to Whiten Sheets in 6 Simple Steps

February 9, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team

Freshly washed bed sheets are one of life’s most simple joys. The feeling of crisp, clean bedding is a small detail that can make a big difference, but before getting into those cozy sheets, you have to go through the arduous process of washing your bedding.

Many people wash their sheets less often than they’d like to admit. The result? Dingy, yellowed sheets that lack that hotel-quality sparkle. You may be wondering how to whiten sheets, and with the right ingredients, you can get crisp, sparkly sheets for that amazing freshly washed sheets type of sleep.

Having dingy, yellowed sheets can make your bed seem a bit less welcoming. Even if you wash your sheets weekly, white sheets often yellow over time. If you want to renew your sheets and have crisp, white bedding, keep reading to learn how to make your sheets white again. 

Whitening Ingredients

Most white sheets naturally start turning yellow or dingy over time due to the sweat and body oils that are released while you sleep. While the brightness of white sheets can be prolonged with regular washing, you can also turn to these methods to help make your sheets white again. 

1. Lemon

Lemon contains citric acid, a natural bleaching agent, which helps brighten your sheets without the use of chemicals. Using lemon juice is an all-natural method that’ll leave a pleasant citrus smell on your sheets. There are two methods for using lemon to whiten yellowed sheets:

Method one

  1. Juice one lemon and pour it into the washing machine with your regular detergent. 
  2. Machine wash as usual. 

Method two:

  1. Mix ½ cup of lemon juice with one gallon of hot water. (Note: this method should not be used with silk sheets)
  2. Soak the sheets in the solution for at least an hour and up to overnight. 
  3. Remove the sheets and machine wash as usual. 

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar is a common household ingredient that has long been touted as a fix-all for many cleaning problems. Baking soda is another popular household ingredient with natural odor-neutralizing abilities. If you’re wondering how to lighten fabric with vinegar and baking soda, check out the methods below to learn how to whiten sheets with these household staples. 

Method one:

  1. Add ½ cup of baking soda to the drum of your washing machine.
  2. Add white vinegar to the line in your fabric softener dispenser. (Note: it’s important to keep the vinegar and baking soda separate)
  3. Machine wash as usual. 

Method two:

  1. Mix ½ cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of hot water.
  2. Soak the sheets for at least an hour. 
  3. Machine wash as usual.
  4. Air dry your sheets to eliminate any hints of vinegar smell (optional). 

3. Borax 

Borax is a common cleaning material with a multitude of uses, from getting rid of stains and mold to killing insects and neutralizing odors. But did you know that borax can also be used to whiten your sheets? To use borax as a whitening laundry booster, follow the steps below.

  1. Add ½ cup of borax to one gallon of water.
  2. Pre-soak your sheets in the solution overnight. 
  3. Machine wash as usual.

4. Bleach

Despite being one of the most popular methods for lightening fabric, bleach is not the ideal whitening solution since the chlorine can chemically react with protein stains like sweat, vomit, sexual fluids, and body oils. However, in a pinch, bleach can still be used to remove yellow stains from sheets. If you want to lighten your linens, follow these steps for bleaching white sheets. 

  1. Machine wash sheets with regular laundry detergent. 
  2. Add ½ cup of bleach to the drum of the machine and run a regular cycle. 
  3. If the bleach smell persists, run another cycle with regular laundry detergent and hydrogen peroxide. 

Another alternative is to use non-chlorine oxygen bleach to whiten your sheets. To keep your sheets looking fresh and new, use oxygen bleach with each wash and clean your sheets every one to two weeks.

5. Liquid Bluing

Liquid bluing is a great choice for whitening yellowed sheets. The blue color neutralizes yellow undertones but slowly wears off with each wash. To use liquid bluing, follow these steps. 

  1. Dilute one teaspoon of liquid bluing in one gallon of water. (Do not add the bluing directly to the sheets, the strength of the chemical may stain the fabric) 
  2. Pour the solution into the drum of your machine along with your regular detergent. (Do not put liquid bluing in your automatic dispenser as this may stain as well)
  3. Machine wash as usual. 

6. Hydrogen Peroxide

If you want to whiten dingy sheets, hydrogen peroxide is a great option. Hydrogen peroxide is best used in conjunction with another cleaning agent like baking soda. However, be sure not to mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar or bleach — instead, do the first load with your active cleaning solution and a second with hydrogen peroxide to counteract the odors or buildup. 

  1. Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the drum before adding sheets. (Note: hydrogen peroxide can also be placed in the bleach dispenser if the sheets are already in the machine)
  2. Machine wash as usual. 

4 Steps to Make Sheets White Again

Even with the right ingredients, it’s important to use the right whitening agents in the correct order to get those crisp, white sheets. Follow these tips for each stage of the washing process to make your sheets white again.

1. Pre-Soak

If you’re pre-soaking your sheets, be sure to use warm or hot water for at least one hour. Use the below pre-soak to ensure your sheets stay crisp and white.  

  1. ½ cup of white vinegar for each one gallon of hot water OR ½ cup of lemon juice for each one gallon of hot water
  2. ½ cup of borax for each one gallon of hot water

2. First Cycle

Once you’re ready to start the first cycle, you have several different whitening options. However, if you’re using a whitener in this cycle, be sure to skip the fabric softener, since vinegar or lemon juice will do the trick. Use any of the below options during the first cycle. 

  1. ½ cup of baking soda 
  2. Juice of 1 lemon
  3. ½ cup of bleach
  4. White vinegar to the line in the fabric softener dispenser
  5. One teaspoon of liquid bluing diluted in one gallon of water

3. Second Cycle

If you notice any residual odors or buildup after the first cycle, try using a hydrogen peroxide rinse and run a second cycle without detergent. Hydrogen peroxide is safe to use on all washable, dye-stable fabrics and breaks down safely in water. You can also use diluted liquid bluing at this stage. 

4. Dry

If possible, air-drying your sheets in the sun is another great way to keep your sheets crisp and white. The sun has natural bleaching properties and won’t set any stains as a dryer would. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

If you’re looking to make your sheets white again, keep reading for answers to some common questions about whitening yellowed sheets. 

Can I Get Sweat Stains Out of Sheets?

Sweat stains on sheets are a pesky reality for many people. Your body naturally produces oil while you sleep, but sweat stains can also be affected by room temperature, hydration levels, and salt intake. 

If possible, try to stay cool at night by setting your thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees, wearing breathable clothing, and using a fan. To get sweat stains out of sheets, try using the borax and white vinegar methods. 

How to Get Yellow Stains Out of White Sheets?

Yellow stains on white sheets are not a welcome sight for most people. Your white sheets naturally turn yellow because of sweat and body oil, and can stain over time if you don’t take proper precautions. 

To prevent yellow stains on white sheets, wash your sheets once a week or more if possible to consistently remove buildup — every four to five days is most ideal.

Can Yellow Stains on Pillow Cases Be Removed? 

Yellow stains on your pillowcase occur because of natural oils from your face and hair. For many people, the culprit of yellow-stained pillowcases is an unwashed face or forgetting to remove makeup before bed.

To ensure you get your much-needed beauty sleep, be sure to use both an oil and water cleanser on your face and wash your pillowcases as often as possible, ideally once a week or more. 

How to Whiten Dingy Sheets?

Dingy sheets are often caused by washing darks and lights together. While this might save time, your light clothes (and sheets) will suffer the consequences of being washed with darks.

To prevent dingy sheets, be sure to wash your lights and darks separately and reinforce with a whitening ingredient like bleach, vinegar, or borax. 

How to Get Blood Out of Sheets?

Getting blood out of white sheets can be a daunting task. Bloodstains are notoriously difficult to remove, but it’s still possible to get blood out of your sheets if you’re proactive and act quickly. 

To remove blood from your sheets, be sure to use cold water and don’t rub, as this will cause the blood to set further into your sheets. Once you’ve removed as much blood as possible, use a stain fighter like hydrogen peroxide to get blood out of sheets. 

After some time, white sheets naturally start looking yellow or dingy. However, you can use whitening agents like lemon, vinegar, or bluing to counteract the stains and keep your sheets looking hotel-quality white. Whether you prefer crisp, light percale sheets or lucious, cozy sateen sheets, you can get your best beauty sleep with  Casper sheets and a mattress today.