Many people do not understand how to do laundry effectively. They often just toss everything in regardless of type, material, color and required care, failing to look at labels and following manufacturer’s instructions. This is never so poignant as when it comes to mixing bed sheets with clothes.
So, can you wash bed sheets with clothes? It’s not advisable to do this because clothes will tangle and wrap up into the sheets. This will result in things not getting as clean as they could be. In fact, your clothes and sheets may end up looking yellowed and dingy.
While there are a few exceptions to this rule, in general, do not toss clothing in the same load as one with bed sheets. That said, large front or side loading washers may be able to handle combining them far more effectively than small top loading ones. This means that the variables involved will be important.
Why Isn’t It a Good Idea to Wash Bed Sheets with Clothes?
Aside from the potential for clothes to get wrapped and tangled up with the sheets, there are many reasons why it’s not a good idea to wash bed sheets with clothes. This includes the type of clothing you’re trying to wash with the sheets as well as water temperature and detergent type.
Water Temperature versus Fabric Care
Typically, bed sheets use a higher amount of heat than clothes, especially when it comes to garments that require the delicate or hand-wash cycle. Not only will the clothing fail to get clean, but also the heat has the potential to cause shrinkage, shredding and holes in clothing.
If you decided to wash bed sheets with garments in cold or warm water, they will not kill all the germs, bed mites and oils embedded within the sheets. This can possibly create a health issue when you replace the sheets back onto your bed, complete with irritated allergies and funky skin reactions.
Using the Right Detergent
This leads us to the third reason why it’s a bad idea to wash bed sheets with clothing: detergent. Most manufacturers design sheets to withstand hot water and harsher detergents. Garments, on the other hand, often need gentler laundry soap. Using the wrong soap on bed sheets or clothing can result in disaster.
To illustrate, most modern laundry machines have separate compartments to accommodate the use of varying types of detergent. There will be a prewash, bleach, fabric softener and then one for standard soap. Most bed sheets should have prewash, fabric softener and standard soap.
Clothing, unless completely filthy, will utilize only the fabric softener and standard detergent compartments. Doing a prewash often involves a powdered soap, like Oxyclean or Borax. This kind of detergent is far too harsh for most garments and it will breakdown the fabric.
Is There Exceptions Where It’s Okay to Wash Bed Sheets with Clothes?
There are some exceptions to the rule of never washing bed sheets with clothing. Most of this will rely on the size of your machine along with how it loads. But, others include a sick household member, the size of the load in question and/or if you’re physically hand washing the sheets with the clothes.
Large Side or Front-Loading Washers
If you have a big front or side-loading washing machine, you can get away with tossing in one or two sheets with a load of clothing. However, your clothing should clearly dominate the load you’re about to wash and the sheets shouldn’t be monstrous in size.
This is because these types of machines do not have an agitator in the middle, which allows garments, sheets and other items to roll freely when in operation. Even if some of clothing tangles and wraps into the bed sheet, everything should still get thoroughly wet and come into contact with a sufficient amount of detergent.
But, if your top loading machine is small with an agitator, avoid adding clothing in with your bed sheets. The chances of them being clean are low, no matter how sparse you make the load. The agitator mechanism will prevent water and detergent from getting into every piece of fabric within the load.
Another exception is in the case someone within your household is sick with something like a fever, flu or cold. In order to keep things sanitary and minimize transmission, you’re going to want to toss in all their clothing and bed sheets into one load. The higher temperatures required for the bed sheets will be best to kill germs and viruses in clothing.
In other cases, you may simply want to wash a few pieces of clothes and need to toss in the top or fitted sheet because your pet soiled it. As long as the item count is eight or less, you shouldn’t have too many issues combining these.
The last exception to the rule is when you are washing both sheets and clothes by hand. This is because you are able to monitor the temperature while also ensuring every part of fabrics receive enough water and detergent. You can check each piece for stain and spot removal, making sure each one gets clean enough.
How do You Determine When; When Not to Mix Bed Sheets with Clothes?
Because mixing bed sheets with clothing in a washing machine is tricky business, you have use a refined sense of discrimination. When in doubt, leave the bed sheets as a separate load from clothing to stay on the safe side of things.
Read Laundry Care Labels
The most important component here is paying attention to the labels on bed sheets and clothing to make sure you match them up properly. Therefore, even with a large side-loading washer, you do not want to put bed sheets in with clothes that require a different cycle.
Delicates and hand wash garments should never go in with any bed sheets whatsoever. Even if you have silk or satin sheets, fragile types of clothing will not be able to handle the higher heat requirement. Unless you don’t care about clothes falling apart, avoid mixing these up.
Sort According to Color Group
Also, color is incredibly important. Unless your bed sheets are white, don’t mix them with white clothing if you plan on using bleach. This is because you’ll end up with discolored and white splotches all over the bed sheets, making them look funky and unsightly. Even if you have color safe bleach, it’s just not a good idea to risk it.
In this regard, keep the clothing items you include with bed sheets in the same color range. Consider the guide below as a point of reference for sorting separate colors successfully:
- Red, orange and strong purple
- Yellow, cream, ivory, light tan and/or beige
- Black and gray
- Blue, green and light purple
- Multiple colors
How Do You Know if You’re Sorting Colors Correctly?
Sorting laundry according to color is a little difficult but not impossible. Understanding the nuances involved with save a lot of time, money and disappoint. Consider the scenarios below to help you configure how to color sort your clothes appropriately.
- If you have blue sheets and want to put them in with a load that’s predominantly yellow, do not mix them together. But, if you have a gray sheet you want to put in with a load of black clothing, you should be okay.
- You’ll have to be judicious with solid colors in conjunction with multiple colors. It will depend on the range of colors in question. As a general rule, do not combine anything strong, bright colors with that of cooler and more neutral tones. The chances of dyes crossing over to garments is far too high to risk.
- In the case of multicolored clothing being predominantly blue and green, a light purple sheet will be fine. But, if the multiple colors are mostly red and black, don’t put light purple sheets into the same load.
- Alternatively, if your sheets are a strong tan or beige, you should be okay to add them into a multiple color load. But the colors should also be neutral. However, blue, green and light purple multicolored items will often be able to handle it..
What re Some Preventative Measures for Washing Bed Sheets with Clothes?
To make sure you’re successful in washing bed sheets with clothing, there are a few measures you can take. However, if none of these are suitable your situation or you have doubts, don’t include bed sheets with clothing.
- To ensure clothes and sheets are thoroughly clean, even in a small washer, presoak your items in warm soapy water for a few hours before adding them to the washer. This way, they will be evenly moist and able to absorb detergent much better than when dry.
- If you have the ability, fill up your washing machine with water and soap about halfway. Then stop the machine, add your clothes and layer them between the one or two sheets you’re including. This will minimize entanglement and help ensure everything has access to enough detergent and water.
- Always pre-treat sheets and clothing with a quality stain remover. This will be best to increase your chances of everything coming out of the laundry clean and fresh.
Are There Troubleshooting Tips for Washing Bed Sheets with Clothes?
If you follow the guidance given above and find that your sheets and clothes aren’t clean, there are a few troubleshooting tips you can use to fix the situation. While these aren’t a foolproof guarantee, they are helpful on the interim.
- After the load completes, inspect each item within the load. Make sure they are thoroughly wet and that any staining has disappeared. If you notice the sheets or clothing fail to appear clean, set these off to the side and put them in another cycle.
- In the case you worry that the clothes and bed sheets won’t get clean enough, check the load about halfway through. Look at the items that you have most concerns over to see they’re getting wet and clean enough. You can always add a little stain remover to spots that look dry and unaffected during the cycle.
- If you put items in the dryer that squeaked by your inspection and they look unclean, soak these in warm soapy water for about an hour. Then put them back into another cycle, but give them each their own load. Do not put them together again in the same load.