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. Most top quality brands of bedding 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.
When 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.
When drying 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.
When ironing cotton sheets, 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.