How to remove yellow stains from white cotton sheets

how to remove yellow stains from white cotton sheets

There is nothing like diving into a bed of clean white crisp sheets at the end of a long day. Once you have had your sheets for some time, the likelihood is that they have developed some yellow stains that do not come off with a regular wash.

Remove yellow stains from sheets without bleach

Fortunately, you can get rid of yellow stains on your cotton sheets and leave them looking as white as new and, you will not have to use bleach. Some household ingredients have been used over the years to solve a lot of cleaning hacks and they work well on white cotton sheets too:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Undiluted lemon juice
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Borax

There are two approaches to eliminating these stains, the basin soak and the washing machine method.

The basin soak method

This approach involves pre-soaking your sheets in a bucket of hot water, white vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda, followed by washing the sheets as normal in the washing machine.

You’ll need:

  • A basin full of hot water
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • Juice from one lemon
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Follow the procedure:

  1. Fill your basin with hot water and pour in the baking soda, vinegar, and juice from one lemon.
  2. Grab your dirty sheets and toss them in the solution.
  3. Make sure the bed sheets are well submerged.
  4. Soak them for about an hour.
  5. After the one hour mark, remove from the solution and squeeze out any excess water.
  6. Wash your sheets in the washing machine as you normally would.
  7. The result will be white sheets.

The machine wash approach

This  method uses your regular washing machine and detergent, plus a couple other ingredients. Make sure you use hot water, as it works best for stain removal. Vinegar and hot water, plus the dish soap and borax all work like magic for stain removal.

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup of laundry detergent (liquid or powder)
  • 1/4 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of distilled vinegar
  • 1-4 tablespoons of dish soap

Follow the procedure:

  1. Pour 1/4 cup of laundry detergent into the dispenser on your washing machine. It doesn’t matter if it’s liquid or powder.
  2. Set your washing machine to the hottest setting.
  3. Add about 4 tablespoons of dish soap directly into the water if the machine is a top-loader or just a teaspoon on a front loader.
  4. Add the borax into the load the same way you added the detergent.
  5. Put the sheets inside and make sure they’re all completely submerged in the solution.
  6. Add the cup of vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser on your washing machine. If it doesn’t have a fabric softener dispenser, add the vinegar during the rinse cycle process.
  7. Let the sheets soak in the solution for 40 minutes once the washing machine has filled. The soaking time is necessary as it will allow the ingredients break down the stains from oils and sweat.
  8. If your washing machine is a front loader and does not have the soak option, run it on a quick spin cycle to mix everything up. Then turn it off and leave the mixture on the bedsheets for about 30 minutes. Power it back on to continue with the wash process as normal.
  9. After your sheets have soaked, let the washing cycle progress as usual.
  10. Rinse the sheets. Remember, we’re using vinegar as our choice of fabric softener.
  11. Put the sheets in the dryer or air dry.
  12. Enjoy your stain-free, pure white, fresh sheets!
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Frequently asked questions about white sheets

What causes stains on bedsheets?

When we lie on the bed, we transfer a lot of things to our bedsheets like hair oils, body oils and sweat. Most of these stains don’t come off with just plain soap and water. If not regularly treated and washed, the stains build up and the result is yellow stains on your once pure white cotton bedsheets.

Can baking soda be substituted for borax and used for removing stains from sheets?

Baking soda can be used as an alternative for borax to get rid of yellow stains on sheets. Both products work the same and are alkaline, but the results might not be the same. Borax works more effectively and is much better at treating stains on cotton.

Can the suggestions above work for colored stained sheets?

Yes, all the products above can remove stains on colored sheets and the results will be the same. None of the ingredients will bleach or harm your sheets, they are all very safe to use. You can opt to either use the basin soak method or washing machine approach.

Since front-loading washing machine use less water, will the bedsheets soak as well?

The best solution for this is to first soak the sheets separately in a basin, then transfer the sheets to the washing machine after rinsing out the water for a final wash.

If this seems like too much work, you can put everything in the washing machine, spin for a few minutes to mix everything up and then turn off the machine and leave it to soak for 30 minutes.

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How often should you wash bedsheets?

Bedsheets should be washed weekly and the procedures above can be used during each wash. None of the products will degrade the quality of the cotton fabric of your sheets so don’t have to worry that borax or vinegar might be harsh and damage your sheets.

Is bleach effective for removing stains from white sheets?

Most people think bleach is the way to go and that makes sense because bleach whitens everything. But to be honest, you want to avoid bleach because bleach actually yellows white cotton and is harsh on your fabrics. Stay clear and go the natural route.

Wrapping up

As you can see, removing yellow stains from white sheets is not such a difficult task. Next time you are contemplating buying white sheets because you dread the stains, know that it is perfectly fine to own several pairs, and maintaining their white is possible.

Also, a few habits will help reduce the stains. A bath before bed, not applying any oils before going to bed and if you know your hair is too oily, you can wrap it up.

how to remove yellow stains from white cotton sheets

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