Sheets, pillows, and blankets need a bit of special—and sometimes downright fussy—care to keep them clean and fresh, but we’re here to walk you through it. First, always check the care label on your bedding to see whether it can be safely laundered at home or if it requires special care or dry-cleaning. Then use our guide to simplify this task at hand, and you’ll be back in the sack and dreaming before you know it.
For Sheets and Pillowcases
Good cleaning frequency: Once a week
Best method: Launder in warm or cold water. (Hot water can shrink them.) Use nonchlorine bleach, as other bleach can seriously break down fibers. Tumble-dry on medium heat and remove before they’re fully dry to cut down on wrinkles. Make sure they’ve completely dried, though, before storing or putting back on the bed. (For a real treat, iron them for a smooth and luxurious finish.)
For upkeep: Where possible, hang sheets outside but not in direct sun. They’ll feel and smell totally dreamy!
Good cleaning frequency: About once a year
Best method: Some pillows are dry-clean only; others can be machine-washed. Use a mild detergent (and only half of the normal amount) in warm or cool water on a gentle setting. After the cycle is finished, rinse one or two more times to remove all soap residue. Spin an extra time to extract as much water as possible. Dry on a low setting until completely dry, which can take a couple of hours for regular pillows and up to eight hours for pillows with internal chambers.
For upkeep: Consider using pillow protectors in addition to your regular cases. Plump daily to maintain loft.
For Down (and Down-Substitute) Duvets and Comforters
Good cleaning frequency: Once every several years. (Too much laundering can lead to excessive wear and tear—plus greatly decrease performance. Instead use a cover and wash that as needed.)
Best method: Professional laundering is generally recommended. If you do wash yours at home, don’t do so in a top-loading washer with an agitator (too rough!). Use only a large-capacity front-loader and half of the usual amount of a mild detergent. Follow directions for pillows above, but add a couple of clean tennis balls in the dryer to fluff.
For upkeep: Shake your comforter weekly to keep the down from bunching up. Air it outside when feasible to keep it fresh.
**For duvet covers… If you also use a top sheet, you can get away with washing duvet covers about once a month. Follow the same instructions as for sheets and pillowcases above.
For Blankets and Quilts
Good cleaning frequency: Once a month
Best method: Most can be thrown in the washer and dryer, although you should always use a mild detergent, warm or cool water, and low heat in the dryer. Like other bedding, it may take quite a while for your blanket or quilt to dry, especially if it has thick batting.
For upkeep: If your quilt has lace or delicate appliqué on it, dry-cleaning might be preferred. If you do wash it at home, it’s best to lay it flat on a rack to dry to avoid damaging the detail work.