Whether your go to is all white sheets or if you opt for mood boosting fun colors and designs, the universal question is “do you have to wash new sheets before use.” While it can sound like too much of an extra step, the answer is yes. Here is the break-down why it is important.
We all do a variety of things to sleep better at night, ranging from sleeping on a nice mattress and even nicer mattress pad, to buying nice sheets. Washing your sheets rids them of harmful chemicals and gives you a softer feel.
New sheets out of the package can look harmless. But, there are a few hidden prepackaging chemicals hidden from your eyes but are harmful to your skin. Learn more about these chemicals and preservatives so you can better understand why you should wash new sheets before using.
Sheets fresh out of the vinyl package look clean, crisp, and ready for a good night’s sleep. This is because manufacturers add in top-coated chemicals called sizing.
Sizing chemicals can be plant based or plastic based. It is what keeps the sheets crisp and doesn’t allow wrinkling for however long they sit in the package. This is because the chemical wraps around the fibers and creates a protective barrier between the sheets and anything that may come into contact with them.
This is why sheets can sometimes feel scratchy or stiff, even when it's a naturally soft material such as silk. You don’t want to expose your skin to that chemical. This is why washing your sheets is a must.
Some manufacturers will use other packaging chemicals such as formaldehyde on the sheets. This is to keep bugs and moths away while the sheets move through warehouses and sit on shelves.
The formaldehyde also poses the risk of giving you respiratory issues which can cause chest paint, shortness of breath, coughing, as well as general irritation to your nose and throat. It can also have an increased risk of asthma and allergies in kids.
While this chemical is great for keeping the sheets looking fresh while you are shopping, you definitely don’t want to expose your skin and lungs to those chemicals overnight.
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Knowing why new sheets should be washed before using can help protect your skin. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals and preservatives can cause your skin to develop a rash. To avoid skin reactions, make it a habit to wash new sheets before using.
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While the main benefit of knowing whether to wash new sheets is avoiding any skin irritation or rashes, there are also a few more benefits freshly washed sheets offer.
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Knowing how to make sheets soft is easier than you think and doesn’t involve much effort. New sheets have that protective chemical coating which can make even the softest sheets stiff and scratchy.
It can take up to two washes to completely get rid of the chemicals. However, one well done wash can get your sheets feeling much softer.
You will want to add in baking soda in the initial washing stages. The baking soda will go to work cleaning and removing the chemicals from your sheets.
Before the final rinse cycle, add in one cup of vinegar. Vinegar is a very powerful tool most commonly used in cleaning such as carpets and can also work for table cloths. The vinegar will work to help soften your sheets while also boosting and securing in the color of your sheets, so they don’t fade.
The odor from vinegar won’t be too strong after the wash is finished and will fade completely after your sheets dry.
A final way to get your sheets as soft as possible is to let them air dry instead of tossing them in the dryer. The heat from the dryer can harm the fibers of your sheets. Instead, keep the fibers healthy by hanging your sheets up outside to dry in the sun. You could let them dry inside overnight by hanging them over your shower rack.
Washing your sheets with your favorite mild detergent or natural cleaner can also wash away the chemical and store smell your sheets can absorb while in the package. The first wash will blast away the old smell and freshen your sheets.
You can skip the fabric softener when you use vinegar. The vinegar will also blast away any odors in new or older sheets since vinegar has acidic cleaning properties.
Also, when you wash your sheets, the creases which have formed from months of sitting on the shelf are washed away. This will reduce any visible lumps or waves on your freshly made bed.
The benefits of washing new sheets can give you better skin health. It can also give you a softer and better smelling good night’s sleep.
When you are ready for the initial wash, take the time to wash your fitted and flat sheets separately for the first time. You want to give your sheets the best opportunity to get clean and blast away the chemicals and preservatives.
When you are washing your sheets, it is important to not add the vinegar and baking soda together. While it does create a foaming cleaning mixture, when used together, baking soda will reduce the effectiveness of vinegar.
This is why you should use the baking soda in the beginning with the general wash. Then, wait for the final rinse to add in vinegar.
Now you know you do need to wash new sheets before use. Run them through a good wash cycle and sleep in peace knowing your new sheets are clean and soft.
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Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.