Should You Wash New Sheets Before Using Them?

It's recommended to wash your sheets at least once every week, or even more often if your pets enjoy lounging in your bed as much as you do. However, is it necessary to wash new sheets that haven't touched your mattress yet? In fact, they should be treated like new clothes or kitchenware, so giving them a quick wash is a no-brainer. These products are often manufactured in dirty factories and have likely switched hands many times. Additionally, chemical residue from manufacturing may linger on sheets that are packaged and shipped to store shelves, which can sometimes lead to an allergic reaction

Another reason to launder new bedsheets is because doing so will likely make them much more comfortable. Depending on the material, some can be rather itchy and uninviting before they are washed. That "new sheet feeling" can also feel cumbersome to some since the tight packaging can lead to stiffness, making it difficult to fall asleep — or even to fit the sheets to your bed. Some people even prefer to hang dry new sheets in the sun after the first wash. Doing this is a great way to eliminate any odd odors left over from the manufacturing process. 

Breaking your new sheets in

Many people buy new sheets in luxurious fabrics like silk and satin for added comfort when they need it the most. When you think about how much of our lives are devoted to sleeping, you realize just how worthwhile an investment they are. However, when you bring your new sheets home for the first time, it's crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions (including washing them before use) to maximize their lifespan and ensure they are ready for your bed. As such, don't just discard the packaging before throwing your sheets in with the rest of your dirty laundry.

Fabrics like Egyptian cotton and rayon bamboo need that first wash because they can feel rigid straight out of the box. Washing these materials on a gentle and cold-temperature cycle before using them will help soften the sheets. This also works over time, so you can expect them to become more luxurious after the first few washes. That said, even products made from less luxurious materials like cotton and polyester benefit from a quick wash before use for sanitary reasons and some additional bedtime comfort.

Preventing discoloration and shrinkage

At one point or another, we've all experienced the frustration of trying to fit new sheets on our beds. The corners don't stay, the fabric hangs off the sides, and we feel agitated. Washing your sheets for the first time will help shrink them to size so that when you roll over during a restful night's sleep, you aren't bringing your fitted sheet with you. 

Knowing how to care for the color and type of fabric your sheets are made from is also essential when deciding the right way to wash them. As you would with clothing, sheets should be separated into darks and lights for the first wash, regardless of water temperature. This will prevent any color transfer from happening, since nothing feels more unsettling than lying down at night on stained white bedsheets. 

Also, be careful about what detergent you use. When washing cotton, detergents with added chlorine bleach or fabric softeners can damage the fibers, making them less soft and comfortable. While cotton can be washed in warm water, silk, satin, and polyester should be treated with a cold cycle, which aids color retention.