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How To Clean Sheets With Baking Soda And Vinegar

Today’s post is dedicated to the quest for clean, fresh-smelling sheets. No matter how expensive your sheets are, each time you sleep on them, they absorb a little more sweat and oil from your skin. Have you gotten the hint that today’s post is a little more realistic than escapist?! I’m in the middle of cleaning out my garage, and I recently came across an old duvet cover that I’d love to re-use as guest bedding. It’s stylish (from Dwell Studio). It’s high-quality. But it doesn’t smell fresh, especially since it’s been bagged up in our garage for the past five years. Is it possible to return this bedding to a clean, fresh state? Read on to learn more about my path to clean sheets with the help of baking soda and vinegar…

How to get fresh clean sheets How To Clean Sheets With Baking Soda And Vinegar
How to get fresh, clean sheets

Before I take you through the steps involved in cleaning your sheets, let me answer one question right off the bat. Does using baking soda and vinegar remove odor from dirty sheets? The truth: yes. Especially if you’re willing to run through this process twice if necessary. Patience is key.

Striped sheets in need of cleaning How To Clean Sheets With Baking Soda And Vinegar
Striped bedding in need of cleaning

Just how dirty was my duvet cover? Let’s just say that using tongs to lift it wasn’t an overreaction! And in case you’re wondering why I washed a duvet cover rather than sheets for this post, rest assured that this duvet cover has the feel of two high-quality sheets sewn together. If this cleaning process can work on my duvet cover, it will definitely work on sheets. In fact, it’s eerily similar to my post on deep-cleaning towels! In other words, there’s undeniable power in the baking soda + vinegar combo!

Cleaning Supplies and Steps

Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • a box of baking soda
  • a bottle of distilled white vinegar
  • dish liquid (the kind you use to hand wash dishes, not the kind you put in the dishwasher)
  • a measuring cup or two
  • a tablespoon
  • tap water
Dish liquid helps lift dirt and oil
Dish liquid helps lift dirt and oil

Before I go through the steps in this process, let me say that I’m not including the step of running the sheets through the washer using regular detergent. That’s because in a lot of cases, the “sweaty” smell of sheets is noticed after taking them out of the dryer. There’s this “Why don’t they smell fresh after I just washed them?” moment! Are you with me here? If you know you want to wash your sheets before treating them with the baking soda and vinegar, feel free to do so before getting started. Or you may want to clean them after the process is complete, if you feel like they smell a bit like vinegar. Your call!

Step 1: Fill your sink with hot water and add 1 cup of vinegar, as well as a couple tablespoons of dish liquid.

I cleaned out my sink before giving these sheets a soak. The smell of vinegar quickly filled the kitchen once my hot water solution was in place. Vinegar neutralizes odors, and it’s also a well-known cleaning agent. When you add the dish liquid, you can measure out a couple of tablespoons, or just eyeball it. The dish soap will help to break apart stains and dirt.

1 cup of vinegar is the perfect amount for soaking
1 cup of vinegar is the perfect amount for soaking

Step 2: Soak the sheets for 30 minutes.

I used my hands to “stir” the bedding a few times during its soaking session. I wanted to make sure that each and every square inch got good coverage!

Soaking the sheets in the washing machine
Soaking the sheets in the sink

Step 3: Wring out the sheets and transfer them to your washing machine.

Don’t worry if your sheets aren’t odor free at this point. There’s still more cleaning to do…

Put the sheets in the washing machine
Put the sheets in the washing machine

Step 4: Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the washing machine. Place it directly in the washer, rather than in the detergent compartment.

You may want to let some water fill the washing machine and add the baking soda before throwing the sheets into the mix. This is tricky to do with my washer, so I ended up having to sprinkle the baking soda directly on the sheets. No problem!

Baking soda and a measuring cup
Baking soda and a measuring cup

Step 5: Wash the sheets in hot water.

I did not add detergent at this point–just the baking soda. I put the washer on the “Heavy” soil setting, making sure my bedding got a good cleaning. And then it was time for a coffee break! In fact, while this cleaning process may seem involved, you’ll end up doing a lot of waiting. Which means there will be plenty of time to get other projects done in between steps.

Time for a coffee break!
Time for a coffee break!

Step 6: Remove the sheets from the washer and give them a sniff. If they still aren’t fresh, repeat steps 1-5.

Folks, my bedding was in need of a really good cleaning. One time through this process just didn’t cut it. But I could tell that the bedding was much improved after just one soak and wash, so I had faith in the steps.

Use distilled white vinegar to clean the sheets
Use distilled white vinegar to clean the sheets

Yes, I re-soaked the bedding. And added the baking soda to the wash again. One repeat of the process, and the bedding was in really good shape! Yes, this baking soda and vinegar strategy really does work! Bonus: these ingredients are non-toxic.

Baking soda in a measuring cup
Baking soda in a measuring cup

Step 7: Run the sheets through the dryer. Remove them when dry, and marvel at their clean, fresh scent.

Time to get them fluffy and dry! I’m not a fan of dryer sheets, so I didn’t use them for this cleaning process. They will definitely add an element of freshness, but I didn’t want any fragrance to mask remaining odor on the bedding. I needed to make sure this cleaning strategy worked before sharing it with you. The verdict?…

Put the sheets in the dryer
Put the sheets in the dryer

There’s nothing like fresh sheets! Thanks for joining me in my latest cleaning endeavor. I’m happy to report that it was a success. Patience was important throughout this process. But it paid off, as you can see!

There's nothing like clean sheets!
There’s nothing like clean sheets!

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