How to get yellowed sheets white again


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White bed sheets and linens, over time can yellow. 

This can be due to a variety of factors: 

  • Body oil has built up on the fabric.
  • Using an inexpensive detergent.
  • Using too much detergent.
    • Excessive detergent may not fully rinse out, leaving a residue on the bed sheets.
  • Having an overloaded wash machine.
    • A good practice is to only wash one set of sheets at a time. Otherwise, the sheets are likely not getting properly cleaned.
  • Not washing your linens often enough. Consider once a week. Every 4 to 5 days during warmer months, as people sweat and produce more body oil in the warmer months. 

As a first attempt to make your sheets whiter, add ¼ cup of baking soda and your detergent to the wash cycle. 

If you think your sheets could have a detergent build up, start a new wash cycle – add ½ cup of white vinegar (no detergent) and run them through the wash cycle.   

  • As a side note, Le Blanc linen wash is an excellent detergent, it can be purchased on our site here. Using it as directed will minimize the yellowing of your white linens. 

So how you get your sheets white once they have reached the point where you don't want to use them? 

----Boil them---- 

We have heard of people doing this, but have always refrained from trying it as high heat is hard on cotton fabric. 

  • However, if your sheets have reached the point where you no longer want to use them, what do you have to lose? 
    • Luxury Linens are expensive; so, if this tip allows you another year or so of use – we think it is worth the risk. 

Here is our disclaimer: if you elect to try this, we take no responsibility for your linens; however, we have tried it and it worked. 

We experimented with some old yellowed cotton pillow protectors. 

  • Our formulations were just trial & error and a little bit of common sense. 

Here is what we started with – YUCK! Here are three standard pillow protectors. 

If not properly cared for Bed Linens can turn yellow

We took out a large size pot, filled it with water then heated it to a boil with a ¼ cup of Le Blanc linen wash.

Boiling sheets to get them white

We boiled the pillow protectors for 10 min. with the lid on.

Two observations: the water was disgusting and the pillow protectors were whiter, but not as white as we wanted.

Steps you can take to whiten your bed sheets 

We drained the water and repeated the process, however, we then added ¼ cup of bleach. 

  • Bleach is hard on cotton, however, if you’re at the point of throwing the sheets away – go for it.
  • Bleach is toxic and boiling it can put fumes into the air, so do this in a well-ventilated area. 

After 10 minutes the water was equally disgusting as the first batch, but, this time the pillow protectors were snow white.

Here are some additional tips.

  • Don’t overload the pot, you will want the sheets to be able to float around and slightly agitate in the boiling water.
    • You may only be able to get one sheet in a large pot.
  • Every few minutes stir the pot with a spoon or a pair of tongs to move the sheet around a bit.
  • Be careful not to let the water boil over as this will add more fumes in the air.
  • Once you have the sheets to the whiteness you want, simply throw them in your wash machine and run them through the wash cycle - without detergent. Also, add a ½ cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle to help strip out in any remaining detergent residue. 

Below are the after pictures – these were line dried – so forgive the wrinkles.

Yellowed sheets turned white

Here is a blog post that identifies how to proper launder sheets.

 To shop for Italy's finest luxury linens & luxury bedding click on the below shop button.

  Click here to shop for Vero's luxury bed linens

Use the code bedding tips at checkout & get 5% off your entire purchase.

View 150+ articles & videos on our “How to Tips” page here .