Cotton Bedlinen: How to iron them for best results

We are always being asked for bedlinen that does not need ironing, or just little bit of ironing but definitely not like the cotton sheets of old that required hours of pressing in order for them to look as good as new.

A good quality polyester cotton percale fabric with an Easy Care finish would normally take care of this issue but more and more appreciate the finer things in life and 200 threads per square inch does not cut it anymore and unfortunately the finest poly-cotton sheets are normally only woven to this minimum standard as they are still perceived to at the bottom end of the market.

So how then do we get over this problem? Cotton sheets come with ‘bad press’ when it comes to ironing.

Some of the premium quality high thread count sheets are both mercerised and sanforised (see this Wikipedia entry about mercerised cotton and this one about sanforization for the technical lowdown).

These help reduce shrinkage and pilling and a new treatment in the last few years adds an easy care finish in with the dying stage which helps reduce creasing. This method was first introduced in a luxury cotton sheet range.

But in order to truly help with this problem of creasing, we first need to understand why this happens.

Cotton is superb at absorbing moisture which is why it is used in bedding as it helps the body cool down using the wicking method, which takes moisture from the body allowing a more natural cooling process.

When cotton is mixed with water and then dried very quickly using a modern tumble drier, it is this process that causes the fabric to shrink by a small amount causing creases to appear.

Drying cotton bed linen

So what is best practice? Line drying your bedlinen is the best way, the creases just fall out leaving you with a soft fabric that has relaxed whilst drying and it then only takes a few minutes to iron out the offending problem.

If you need to use a machine to dry the cotton then dry until slightly damp and take them out of the machine and dress the bed in the normal way and the cotton will dry out in approximately 10 minutes leaving the fabric up to 80% crease free.

Good washing results come with good care, always read the label to achieve the optimum results. Most commercial and high street laundries use large machines that do not have a gentle washing action and also use water that is often too high in temperature, this could cause a untreated fabric to shrink and skew in shape prematurely.

Top this off with a high speed spin and you could ruin the long term feel and handle of your cotton sheets. Best practice is to use a good domestic washing machine and a gentle action with an economy heat cycle of less than 40 degrees.