Sustainability made simple

How to Wash Bed Sheets: Eco-Friendly Tips

how to wash sheets
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Jaymantri

Learning how to wash sheets requires more than just stripping the bed and tossing them in the machine. If you want to wash ecologically, you should also keep electricity and water consumption low. We’ll look at how to best wash bed sheets from an environmental perspective. 

Washing bed sheets is a time-consuming process as the sheets take up more space in the washing machine, and they take longer to dry. Due to the build-up of bacteria and germs, you should aim to wash and change your sheets every two weeks. By doing so, you’ll also avoid the dust mites that typically start to show up around the two week mark.

How to Save Water When Washing Sheets

how to wash bed sheets
Wait to wash your bed sheets until you have a full load, just be careful not to overfill your washing machine. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Rodnae Productions)

Skip the Prewash: When washing bed sheets (and most other clothes), always skip the prewash. This way, you will save water and energy. Unless you stumble into bed covered in dirt, you will rarely (if ever) find stubborn dirt stains on your bed sheets. 

Wash Your Bed Sheets in Full Loads 

If you own two sets of bed sheets and rotate them on a weekly, or biweekly basis, wait until both sets are dirty before putting them in the laundry machine. The most efficient way of doing laundry in a washing machine is to wait until there is enough to fill a full drum.

The most environmentally-friendly way of doing laundry is to limit the amount of times you use your washing machine, which means the closer to full that each load is, the better.  Adding in a few towels or similarly-colored fabrics to your bed sheets will help you quickly fill up your washing machine.

For more water saving tips, check out our guide: Water Conservation: 10 Tips on How to Save Water at Home

How to Wash Bed Sheets: Tips for Conserving Energy 

should you wash new sheets
Air-drying is by far the most environmentally friendly way of drying your bed sheets. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Skitterphoto )

Use an Energy-Efficient Laundry Machine

Did you know that a high-efficiency washer uses nearly half the amount of water that a conventional top-loader uses? Not only do high-efficiency laundry machines use less water and energy, but they are also gentler on bed sheets, which means your sheets will take less damage through washing over time. Most washing machines use a sensor to weigh the load and will adjust the wash cycle accordingly. 

Your laundry machine runs more efficiently when it’s clean. Read more here: Your Washing Machine Smells? Get Rid of Washing Machine Odors Using These Home Remedies


Back before the invention of washers and dryers, washing clothes by hand and hanging them out to dry was common practice. It’s a time-proven method, and it saves a ton of energy! If you don’t have a clothesline in your backyard or on your balcony, you can also get a drying rack (available on Amazon**) to set up in your home.

If you don’t have the space or time to air-dry your bedding, consider using wool dryer balls (available on Amazon**). They can decrease drying time by up to 50 percent, and help dry bulkier loads.

Know Which Cycle to Use

Just because the machine has a bedding cycle doesn’t mean it’s the best setting to use to wash bed sheets. The bedding (or hygiene) cycle is hot and long, which uses a high amount of water and energy. Most of our everyday laundry, including bed sheets, can be washed on a cold cycle. This is better for the environment, as no energy is used to heat the water. However, there are a few times when a warmer cycle is necessary: 

  • Allergies: If you suffer from allergies, a higher temperature is necessary to kill the dust mites in your bed sheets.
  • Sick: When someone in your household is sick, washing the bed sheets on warm will help kill bacteria and germs.
  • Monthly: It’s a good idea to wash at least one load of laundry on a higher temperature setting per month in order to kill the bacteria living in your washing machine.

Avoiding Chemicals: Household Remedies

how to wash sheets
Chances are you already have plenty of natural cleaning agents sitting around the house. (Photo: CC0 Public DOmain / Pixabay - Monfocus)

Laundry Detergent

Many washing detergents contain toxic chemical compounds that contribute to water and air pollution and can also damage your bedding. Moreover, the microplastics often found in laundry detergent enter waterways, fields, and the air via wastewater.

When it comes to looking for an eco-friendly detergent, be sure to look for biodegradable ingredients, cruelty-free labels and ensure there are no phosphates or parabens. Consider using natural alternatives to conventional detergent like soap nuts. You can find them in organic supermarkets, or online on Amazon**.  

Bleaching Agents

If you want to wash your white bed sheets and make them look white again, you don’t need harsh chemicals. So before you reach for bleach, consider using natural remedies like:

For more information, check out: How to Wash White Clothes: Preventing Discoloration

This article has been translated from German to English by Karen Stankiewicz. You can view the original here: Bettwäsche waschen: Tipps für Temperatur, Programm und Waschmittel

** Links to retailers marked with ** or underlined orange are partially partner links: If you buy here, you actively support, because we will receive a small part of the sales proceeds. More info.

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