How to make white sheets brighter in 3 simple ways

Bed with white bedding
Bed with white bedding (Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s nothing like freshly laundered, white sheets to give your bedroom that hotel feel. But once it starts to lose its brilliant shine, you may be wondering how to make white sheets brighter. What’s more, having white sheets can make all the difference to your sleep routine, especially when placed on one of the best mattresses.

Similar to the reasons why your mattress has turned yellow, there are a number of factors that can discolor white bedsheets. The main causes of yellow stains include a build-up of natural body oils and sweat, build-up of skin or hair products, food and drink spillages or accidents involving urine, vomit, or blood, including from pets. 

These can breed bacteria and lead to other nasties, such as bed mites. That’s why it’s so important to know how to make white sheets brighter, so they will be fresh and hygienic. 

Luckily, you can bring back the sparkle to your white sheets with just a few household ingredients. While washing bedsheets may seem like an arduous chore, these simple tips will take no time at all. So, here’s how to make white sheets brighter in just three simple ways. 

Be sure to also check out 7 mattress care mistakes you’re making right now

How to make white sheets brighter using lemon juice 

Squeezing a lemon into bowl

Squeezing a lemon into bowl (Image credit: Shutterstock)

— Create a mixture of ½ cup of lemon juice with one gallon of water in a tub. Then, pre-soak the white sheets in this solution for at least an hour or overnight for better results.

— Next, wring out the sheets and put them in the washing machine at the required temperature. 

—  Alternatively, you can juice one lemon and pour into the washing machine drawer with your normal detergent. 

Lemon contains citric acid, and is a natural, bleaching agent. Not only will it brighten your white sheets, but it will leave a fresh fragrance. If you want to know more about the magic of lemon juice, check out 9 things you didn’t know you could clean with a lemon.  

TIP: Never pre-soak silk sheets as this will damage the fabric. 

How to make white sheets brighter using vinegar and baking soda 

Baking soda and vinegar bottle

Baking soda and vinegar bottle (Image credit: Shutterstock)

— Add ½ cup of baking soda inside your washing machine drum, fill the fabric softener dispenser with white vinegar and wash as normal. Then air dry your sheets to eliminate any traces of vinegar scents

— Alternatively, you can pre-soak the white sheets in a solution of ½ cup of vinegar with one gallon of water for at least one hour, before washing as normal. 

Similar to lemon, baking soda is a natural, bleaching agent that is great for removing yellow stains. It also neutralizes bad odors, which means your bed sheets will be smelling fresh. Find out what makes baking soda and vinegar so good at cleaning for best results, and 7 reasons you should use vinegar in your washing machine

How to make white sheets brighter using bleach 

Taking out white bedsheets

Taking out white bedsheets (Image credit: Shutterstock)

 —First, wash sheets with your usual laundry detergent to eliminate traces of body oils and sweat.

— Next, add ½ a cup of bleach to the drum, and run a regular wash cycle to whiten your sheets.

While bleach is ideal for removing yellow stains in fabrics, it’s worth noting that the chlorine can react with protein stains like sweat, vomit or body oils. This may cause yellow spots to appear, so it’s best to only use on clean fabrics. Remember to never mix bleach with distilled white vinegar — this creates a lethal chlorine gas. 

How often should you wash your sheets? 

Making a bed

Making a bed (Image credit: Shutterstock)

According to the Sleep Foundation, you should wash your sheets once a week. If you suffer from allergies or have pets however, you should wash your sheets more frequently to reduce allergens. It’s also advisable to wash pillowcases once a week, duvet covers every fortnight to a month, and comforters/blankets every 2-3 months. 

After that, check out how often should you change your bedsheets

Other tips to keep your white sheets bright 

  • Avoid eating in bed
  • Wash white bedding separately 
  • Wash your face or remove traces of make-up before going to bed 
  • Don't use fabric conditioner to prevent chemical build-up on the fabric

If your mattress needs cleaning then our feature on how to clean a mattress offers plenty of valuable advice. While you’re doing that, it might be worth knowing how to wash a pillow. And if all this is too late and you need a new mattress, take a look at our best mattress guide. 

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!