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The Hard Truth About Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets

There’s nothing quite like climbing into a bed made with freshly laundered sheets. And for many people, that means using a number of washing and drying products. If your laundry room lineup includes harsh detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets, however, you may be surprised to learn these products may be doing more harm than good.

Choosing the right detergent — without fabric softeners

We spend a third of our lives between the sheets, so it makes sense to want to keep them as clean as possible. Most use the same detergent for both sheets and clothing, but this can be a mistake. Linens typically can’t stand up to the same wear and tear as clothing, so treating them gently can greatly extend their life.

When you wash your sheets and pillowcases, be sure not to use too harsh a detergent nor too much of it. Look for a mild liquid detergent without added bleach, optical brighteners, whiteners, or fabric softeners. Some experts even suggest using a baby detergent, which is gentle but effective.

The problem with fabric softeners and dryer sheets

People often purchase fabric softeners and dryer sheets to reduce wrinkles, boost softness, and add a fresh scent to their laundry. Yet these products are not only unnecessary; they can also damage your linens.

That’s because fabric softeners and dryer sheets coat fabric fibers with a stubborn residue that builds up over time, making sheets and pillowcase more difficult to clean. This buildup can also fade colors and break down cotton fibers, which, ironically, causes linens to lose their softness in the long run.

So once you’ve washed your linens with a mild and effective detergent, stop! Just lie back, relax, and enjoy your clean bed.

Two secret weapons for a long-lasting clean

Even with careful adherence to best practices for sheet and pillowcase care, sometimes your cleaning routine may need an extra boost. To help brighten linens and get rid of residue buildup, wash them with a quarter cup of white vinegar every 6 to 8 weeks — no detergent necessary.

The very best thing you can do to keep your bedding comfortable for years to come? Start with the very best materials. 

By choosing sheets woven of a high-quality cotton from a verified source, like the Wamsutta collection made with PimaCott pima cotton, you’ll find that fabric naturally stays softer, more wrinkle-resistant, and brighter without the need for fabric softeners, dryer sheets, or other harsh chemicals.