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Should You Wash New Sheets

Key Points

  • You should always wash new bedsheets before their first use
  • New bedsheets may contain unwanted chemicals that are bad for your skin
  • Could contain unpleasant smells, washing and air drying is the best way to get rid of these unwanted odours
  • Washing bedsheets is a good way to test the quality of them

You've just got home and you've just received a freshly delivered bedding set from the store, and you have a fresh set of crisp, soft, white sheets in your hands. More than anything, you want to take them from the packet, put them on the bed, and dive into those clouds of luscious threads.

But, stop right there! Do you have to wash new sheets?

There is lots of debate about whether or not you should wash your new sheets before using them on your bad. Some people might say it isn't necessary or that it's an 'old wives tale,' while others will swear that they wouldn't sleep a single night on unwashed new sheets.

It can be difficult to know who you should listen to. Then, some packages will have instructions that you should wash your sheets before you use them, while others won't. Does that mean that only SOME sheets new washing before you snuggle in?

Lucky for you, we are here to settle the matter once and for all. We have outlined below exactly why you should always wash your sheets before you use them (and you can trust us, we are the linen experts after all).

Washing new Sheets removes harmful chemicals

Even if your sheets don't have a label that tells you to wash them, you definitely should. This will help to remove the chemical treatments placed on the fabric during the manufacturing process.

Looking at the care label for instructions

We know that bedsheets right out of the packaging look crisp and clean. This is because the chemicals added to the fabric are doing their job! Starch and sizing are both additives that are used in sheet processing to give that crisp and smooth finish that makes sheets look so good in their packaging.

You'll never see a wrinkled sheet on the shelf after all. However, you definitely don't want those additives coming in contact with your skin (or your family member's skin).

Some chemicals used in sheet manufacturing include butane, propane and formaldehyde. So you will definitely want to wash your sheets at least once, if not multiple times, to remove all residue before you use them.

But, what if it's organic?

Buying organic sheets is definitely a great idea for a number of reasons. Organic cotton is excellent for those with sensitive skin , and these breathable fabrics can give you a better night's sleep.

Pile of organic clothes clean from the wash

However just because your sheets are organic doesn't mean there are no chemicals at all.

It is true that organic cotton isn't exposed to wrinkle-resistant treatments that release formaldehyde and other dangerous products, but they are still processed on machinery, and often still come in plastic packaging.

We still recommend washing to get rid of any potential residues.

Washing and Air Drying helps removes odours

Sheets straight from the packet can have a strong smell. This can be from the aforementioned chemicals used in processing, but in addition, the plastic packaging used to wrap non-food related products often has more harmful chemicals.

Kid with smelly finger and scrunched up face

Chances are, you will notice the chemical waft as soon as you open up the packet of your new sheets. Unlike 'new car smell,' this is something you are going to want to get rid of.

Wash your sheets straight away, and hang them outside for a few hours to dry in the fresh air. The sun will also help to eliminate the chemical smell naturally.

If the weather doesn't allow, hang them undercover.

Avoid tumble drying your sheets to avoid shrinkage.

Washing bedsheets is a good way to check the quality

When you get new sheets you will also want to see if they stand up to your quality standards, and washing is a great way to do this.

Inspecting clothes after washing

After washing your sheets, you will be able to notice if there are any minor defects more easily.

Loose threads will be easier to spot.

In addition, when you buy new sheets with a rich colour, you will want them to keep that colour. If they start to fade after a single wash, this will be a good indication that they won't stand the test of time.

Bed sheets use coloured dyes to give them their colour, but the types and qualities of dies vary greatly. If you don't wash before use, you risk the sheets transferring colour onto your bed, or other bedding. Not to mention, some dyes can cause rashes to sensitive skin.

For these reasons, you will want to make sure you wash your new sheets separately.

Lastly, you will want to check for shrinkage in your new sheets. Lots of companies will say that their products are pre-shrunk, which means they shouldn't shrink after washing. However, this isn't reliable for all sheet types and fabrics. If you have a high mattress or have a pillow top, shrinkage might mean your sheets no longer fit.

Washing your new sheets within the return policy will allow you to identify any of these problems while there is still time to do something about them. If your sheets shrink, you could exchange for a bigger size. If the colour fades or runs too much, you might consider exchanging for another brand or contacting the manufacturer.

In summary

So, there you have it. Washing your sheets before you use them is always a good idea. The first time you sleep on your new sheets, you want them to feel the very best they possibly can. Freshly washed clean sheets always feel (and smell) much better than straight out of the packet.

While responses from your friends about whether to wash, or not to wash, new sheets might vary, studies from the Sleep Foundation show that around 8 in 10 people wash their bed sheets before using them. In this case, you certainly want to be in the majority.

When it comes to the health and safety of your family, and to getting the best night's sleep possible, don't take the risk. Throw those sheets in the machine and rest assured that you've made the right call.