How to Whiten Your Sheets in 6 Steps

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Your bedsheets see a lot of action. You sleep in them, sweat in them, and maybe even spill a bedtime snack or two. Even if you consider yourself to be a pretty hygienic person, we all unintentionally leave behind oils and bodily fluids in our beds. As time goes on, that natural form of human debris starts to build up, causing our sheets to yellow.

But don’t worry—you’re not doomed to a lifetime of dingy linens. With a little know-how, you can whiten your sheets once again.

6 Tips For How to Get Sheets White

Want to start worrying about thread count instead of dinginess? If you’re looking to restore your sheets back to their former glory, here’s how to whiten them.

1. Give Your Laundry a Boost

Regular wash cycle not cutting it? You may need to give your sheets a little extra help. Try using a whitening laundry booster like OxiClean or Borax. These products are designed to brighten and whiten clothes, so they should help do the trick on your sheets as well.

Mix a capful of OxiClean with six gallons of water and let your sheets soak for six hours before washing them as normal. If you take the Borax route, mix a half cup of this booster per gallon of water and let your sheets soak overnight before throwing them in the wash.

2. Combine Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you’re looking for a more DIY way to clean your sheets, try combining baking soda and vinegar. This duo is a powerful cleaning combo that can be used on a variety of household surfaces—including your dingy sheets.

To use, fill your washing machine with cold water. Then add a half-cup of baking soda to the drum and vinegar to the fabric softener compartment. Pour enough to reach the fill line. Toss your sheets in along with your regular detergent and run a normal cycle. The baking soda should kill any vinegar-y smells, but you may want to air dry your sheets just to be on the safe side.

3. Wash Them Solo

Washing your white sheets with other clothes and blankets—especially when they are dark in color—can cause them to become discolored. To avoid this, wash your sheets solo using the hottest water recommended on the care label. Doing a separate load will help keep your sheets looking brighter for longer.

4. Add a Little Lemon Juice

Turns out, you don’t have to look far to find a natural bleaching agent. If you have lemon juice in your fridge, you’re already halfway there. Pour about three tablespoons (or the amount of juice from one lemon) into your washing machine along with your regular detergent. Run a normal cycle, and voila—brighter sheets.

5. Grab Some Hydrogen Peroxide

Your key to crispy white sheets might be hiding in your medicine cabinet. That’s right—hydrogen peroxide can come in handy when you’re trying to fight yellowing. All you need is a cup of HP mixed in with your regular detergent. Give it a good stir inside the machine so the two ingredients are fully combined, then run a normal cycle.

6. Know When to Bring in the Bleach

Sometimes, you have to bring out the big guns. When all else fails, you can always use bleach. But be careful—bleach is a powerful chemical that can damage the fabric if used incorrectly. Always wash your sheets first before you add the bleach. Once they’ve gone through a single cycle on their own, add a 1/2 cup of bleach to your washing machine. Run another cycle, then dry as usual.

Ways to Prevent Your Sheets From Yellowing

Once you’ve got your sheets looking good as new, you’ll want to keep them that way. Check out these tips for preventing future yellowing.

Save Snacking for the Couch

We know—eating in bed is one of life’s simple pleasures. But if you’re not careful, those crumbs can lead to big problems. Not only could they attract dust mites, but they can also leave behind stains that are tough to remove. Save yourself the headache of dealing with yellowed sheets and stick to eating elsewhere in your home.

Watch Out for Pet Stains

Dogs and cats alike love to curl up on a cozy bed. But if your pet has an accident, it can lead to some serious staining. If you can, keep pets off  the bed altogether. If that’s not an option, make sure to clean up any accidents right away. The longer the stain sits, the harder it will be to remove.

Shower Before Bed

We all know the importance of showering regularly, but did you know that it can also help keep your sheets clean? By showering before bed, you can remove any dirt, sweat, or makeup that might transfer to your sheets during the night. This will help keep them looking brighter for longer.

Wash Your Sheets Regularly

The best way to prevent your sheets from yellowing is to wash them on a regular basis, especially if they’re easier to clean like cotton sheets. Ideally, washing sheets once a week will be enough to keep them clean and free of any build-up. But if you can’t commit to that kind of laundry duty, opt for washing them at least once a month.

Line Dry Your Linens

The sun is one of nature’s best bleaching agents. So, when weather permits, try line drying your sheets. Leaving them in the sun will  help them stay brighter and will also help get rid of any musty smells. Just be sure to take them down before any patterns start to fade.

Looking for more info? Check out our Why are your pillows turning yellow guide?


No one wants to sleep on yellow sheets. But as humans who sweat and shed skin cells, it’s inevitable that our bedding will become stained over time. Luckily, many of the solutions for restoring your linens can be found right in your home.  From lemon juice to hydrogen peroxide, there are plenty of ways to get your sheets looking good as new—and keep them that way.

With a little effort, you can keep your sheets bright and yellow-free for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you whiten sheets without bleach?

Lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, OxiClean, Borax, and vinegar and baking soda are all effective ways to whiten sheets without bleach.

Can I remove sweat stains from white sheets?

Yes! You can remove sweat stains from white sheets by soaking them in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, detergent, and water, then laundering them as usual.

How do I remove blood stains from sheets?

Soaking the sheets in hydrogen peroxide and then rubbing the stain with a scrub brush should do the trick. Run them through the wash a few times after to remove any lingering residue.

Should I wash sheets in hot or cold water?

Warm water is typically best for washing sheets, as it will remove most stains and dirt without causing any damage to the fabric.