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Ironing cotton sheets

Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets are made from a natural material that has been used for making good quality bedlinen for centuries.

Choosing the right quality of cotton is essential to receive the best ironing results, cheap cotton sheets are covered with a silicone finish that washes away after a few washes leaving a rough and uncomfortable fabric that is hard to care for and feels itchy to touch and not smooth for sleeping on.

Like most things in life cotton is graded in lots of different qualities, like buying a car you can get a basic model and a luxury model of the same thing.

Well, cotton is just the same, cheap cotton sheets use the basic or rougher cotton portion which is sometimes full of impurities and much more of the actual plant than the soft fluffy cotton bud.

Yes, you can guess that the superior quality cotton sheets are made from the pure long staple fibres of the plant which you normally associate with luxury brands of Egyptian cotton.

Made in the UK Luxury Cotton Sheets

Most top quality brands of bedlinen use the superior quality of cotton while your lesser well known plain packaged cotton sheets will use the cheaper stuff.

Beware, you will get what you pay for but how can we help you with keeping them pristine no matter what your budget is?

The manufacturer will have their set of guidelines for you to adhere to, these are found on the sewn in wash care label tab, normally found on the underside of the sheet.

Made up of words and symbols it is good practice to get to know what these mean before loading your new cotton sheets in to the washing machine.

Washing cotton sheets

Use the correct setting, today’s modern washing machine and washing powders allow you to wash cotton at much lower temperatures and still keep the sheets looking optically white.

Eco friendly powders do not use bleaches or harmful caustic sodas so they are as kind to the environment and not abrasive to the delicate cotton fibres used to make your fitted sheets.

For more on Eco Friendly washing powders the Ecologist has a detailed article How green is your washing powder? to help you make the right choice.

Using high temperatures can cause deep dye cotton sheets to lose some of their colour, be mindful when washing deep or dark colours at temperatures over 40 degrees as you may lose some of the original colours which leave the sheets looking faded.

Drying cotton sheets

When drying your cotton sheets, the best practice is to line dry them. This will leave them smelling fresh and also the vast majority of the creases will fall out of the fabric leaving you with virtually little or no ironing to do.

This is a bonus because large fitted or flat sheets can be very hard to iron. One thing to remember when using a tumble drier is that wet or damp cotton does not go well together, too much heat or over drying will cause the cotton fibres to contract causing excessive creasing.

You will then find yourself rewashing the sheets or spending hours steam ironing them to get them looking somewhere near as good as the day you took them out of the packet.

The trick here is to remove them from the tumble drier whilst still slightly damp and this will help you iron them easier.

Ironing cotton sheets

Now to the task of ironing, you are going to need a good quality iron and just as important a good quality, study and large ironing board.

Keep the iron topped up with water as the steam function is essential to remove stubborn creases. If you have line dried the sheets you may want to just go over them to make the cotton look pristine.

If you have tumbled dried them as above you can just quickly iron the sheets but without too much effort, however if the sheets are very creased then consider rewashing them as cotton does get softer and more complaint with every wash and remember it is the drying process that causes the creasing.

If all else fails the steam function of your iron will remove most of the more troublesome creases.

How to wash and Iron Cotton Sheets

A good question, how do you wash and iron cotton sheets?

Today’s modern and usually hectic lifestyles make it impossible for some of us to stand there hours on end making the sheets and duvet covers look as good as the day you unwrapped them from the packaging, but, we have to wash the sheets at least every week for hygiene reasons so this is unfortunately a necessary evil.

The end result is truly one of life’s little luxuries as you will no doubt agree that there is nothing finer than getting to freshly washed and ironed cotton sheets.

So how can we reduce the time and stress involved in this labour intensive process and still keep our bedding looking clean and fresh all year round?

Cotton Duvet Sets

Cotton sheets and duvet covers are known for being much harder to look after than bed linen made from a mix of material such as polyester and cotton.

Cotton is excellent at absorbing moisture which is vital in creating the ideal sleeping environment as they wick away the heat and moisture from the body but the down side is that if you try to dry them out to much they will crease.

To combat this effect most manufacturers now include an easy-care finish which is part of the dying process which helps eliminate the creasing factor but of you still dry them to a crisp in the tumble drier no amount of easy care will stop them looking like you have just picked them up of the floor.

Washing and drying pure cotton

Don’t be put off buying pure cotton sheets or Egyptian cotton duvet covers as there are a few tricks you can use that will help you make the most out of your washing and drying time.

1: Pre stain treatments

Pre stain treatments are normally very good if your sheets and duvet covers have been soiled in a particular place and not all over.

Accidents in bed do happen such as when you have a drink like tea or coffee, or for the more adventurous, a glass of wine. Cotton sheets are not dyed in the same way as polycotton sheets and the white or colour can be washed away over time if you use a stain treatment that is too harsh.

Cotton is naturally grey so you can expect to see a optical greying of the fabric if this is done too often or if you use an incorrect treatment, also check for colour fastness first. Pre washing is normally better in this instance especially if the stain is over a wider area.

2: Eco setting

Most modern fabrics produced today can be washed on a Eco setting that uses less energy and water during the cycle, if your machine does not have this setting revert back to the wash care label to see what the maximum temperature the manufacturer suggests.

This would normally be no more than 40 degrees and if the sheets are not heavily soiled you can get away from the more environmentally sound setting of 30 Degrees Celsius.

A pre wash is not always required so you save the environment and your electric bill, just go for the eco wash as this is normally more than sufficient.

3: Fabric conditioners or softeners

Fabric conditioners or softeners are not always needed as cotton sheets are soft in the first place, they are only needed if the area you live in has hard water or water than needs to be filtered before use.

Most washing powders have some form of additive in them to make the water more effective so doubling up on this is just a waste of money and more chemicals being flushed down the drains and into our water courses which as we now know is not good for the environment.

Try to wash the bedding once a month without fabric conditioners if you can so it helps the absorbency rate of the cotton stay as good as new.

4: Tumble or line drying?

This is where things can get tricky.

Let’s say you have used the best water and the very best washing powder and the sheets are soft and sumptuous as they leave the washing machine.

How do we dry the sheets without them creasing like mad and driving you insane? For the best results you cannot beat drying the bedding on the washing line, the natural weight of the cotton will remove the vast majority of the creases and the slow dry out period of the wind and sun will stop the cotton from completely drying out.

If you have no choice like living in an apartment or in the depths of winter and you need to use the tumble drier the trick here is to use the lowest setting you can and dry them over time without the use of excessive heat.

Remove them from the tumble drier whilst they are slightly damp, not wet and heavy but still damp and moist. You can them hang them over a door or even dress the bed and within 10 to 15 minutes they will be dry and ready for you to use and they will look and feel great.

5: Ironing

5: If you want out of the packet looks every time then you will need to iron the sheets and duvet covers, to achieve the best results and make things easier it is best to iron the bedding while they are still slightly damp.

Trying to iron out creases on dry cotton is not the easiest of tasks and generally will require a commercial ironing press. Wetting the fabric as you iron can help but this is still not going to be as good as pressing them while they are still damp.

Ironing is a skill and it can take you several attempts to find the best way and position, if you have ever tried pressing fitted sheets with the elasticated corners you will know what we mean.

Dry cleaning can be expensive and can sometime damage fragile nature of very high thread count cotton sheets so if you want pristine results hire someone to iron them for you or get out your ironing board and start learning as soon as you can.

Another trick here is not to have your iron too hot and do not leave it in one place for very long, use quick and long strokes up and down the ironing board to get rid of the creases more effectively.