There’s nothing quite like sliding into bed at night into comfortable, warm sheets and blankets. But when they’re new, even the highest-quality sheets can feel a bit scratchy or even stiff. That’s because sheets often come with chemical coatings applied by the manufacturer. These make sheets feel crisp and clean — but the downside is that they’re just not as soft and snuggly as you’d like. On the other hand, sheets can also get rougher over time, especially if they’re of cheaper materials that pill and break down.
Luckily, it’s pretty simple to get softer sheets at home using ingredients you already own. So whether you’re softening your sheets right out of the package or refreshing a set you’ve had for years, here are a few simple ways you can go about the process. Try these low-cost hacks for softer sheets today!
Vinegar And Baking Soda In The Wash Can Help Soften Sheets
First stop: your kitchen pantry. Grab a bottle of white vinegar and a box of baking soda. Pop your sheets in the washing machine and add 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar. Let the load run for one wash cycle; there’s no need to add your regular detergent. Dry as usual. Vinegar is helpful because it removes odors and helps freshen up stale sheets.
If that doesn’t do the trick, try this variation. Add only the baking soda and start your wash cycle on a warm or cool water setting. Then during the final rinse cycle, add your vinegar and switch to cold water. Some people like to start with this variation and then wash them one more time with regular detergent, only using half as much soap as they normally would.
For queen, king and California king sheets, you might want to try washing your top and bottom sheets separately so they have more room to tumble around in the wash. The more compacted they are in the drum, the more this can inhibit the cleaning process.
Salts Can Also Help Soften Sheets
If the idea of skipping detergent makes you cringe, go ahead and carry on like usual when washing. Just add 1/4 cup of Kosher salt to the wash to help soften the fabric.
If you have Epsom salt on hand, consider soaking sheets overnight in the tub. Fill it with cold water and dissolve 1/3 cup of Epsom salt with a wooden spoon. Toss in your sheets and let them soak while you slumber. In the morning, wash as usual with little to no detergent (dealer’s choice). The tub-to-washing machine transfer can get messy, so we suggest you grab a big plastic tote bin to help keep the water contained.
An overnight soak also works with 1/2 cup of Borax, which is sodium borate — a type of salt. Just make sure it’s dissolved into the water as much as possible before you put your sheets in. Then let them soak overnight. Launder as usual without using any detergent or a very small amount.
Soften Sheets With Help From Nature
While hot water breaks down rough fibers in a good way, dryer heat can stiffen them instead. During summer months or in warmer climates, let nature run its course by line-drying cotton sheets outside on a clothesline. Line drying also helps eliminate wrinkles and is gentler on fabrics.
Line-drying will obviously take longer than your typical dryer cycle, but avoiding the extreme dryer heat can help you get softer sheets. If you live in an apartment or simply don’t have the time (or patience) to hang them outside, use the lowest temperature setting your dryer allows.
Wash And Dry Your Sheets Properly
To soften sheets, use less laundry detergent than you think you need. And don’t cram everything into one load. Overfilling the washer, or using too much soap, can prevent your clothes from getting truly clean and soft.
No matter if your sheets are old or new, using dryer balls during your machine’s drying cycle can help keep them soft and fluffy. The balls eliminate the need for fabric softeners, which can leave behind residue.
You may have heard that a higher thread count for linens can help ensure you’re getting softer sheets from the get-go. While this used to be true, it has become a marketing gimmick and companies can get sneaky in how they obtain a higher thread count. Good Housekeeping points out that the only time you should even pay attention to thread count is if you’re buying 100% cotton sheets with single-ply weaves.
In general, sheets that have a 300-500 thread count today are considered the top-rated sheets. Experts say that numbers beyond that are inflated. And if you go higher, you risk getting sheets that deteriorate faster because of the friction of the threads. Fiber quality and weave are more important, and this can’t necessarily be determined by touching the sheets in the store. Look to see if the length of the cotton staple fiber is listed; the longer, the better.
If slipping into a cozy bed with softer sheets can help you achieve a good night’s sleep, then we’re all for it — especially on the weekend when there’s extra time to linger in bed. Enjoy!