There's always a slight moment of panic when you've just splurged on a luxe set of new sheets or fluffy fresh bath towels and are about to throw them in the wash for the very first time. Terror visions of fitted sheets coming out half their size or towels being reducing to a crisp come to mind. Is it better to use cold or warm water? Is this is a bleach-safe situation? What about the dryer? What's the best way to fold and organize everything and avoid the set of sheets to turning into a clean yet jumbled mess?
We're answering all these questions for you today so that you never have to have washing machine anxiety again. Get ready to become a laundry closet mastermind.
There's nothing better than fluffy towels—the ones that aren't thinned, ratty, scratchy, or makeup-stained. To keep towels looking their best, limit their wash to every third use—just remember to hang them to dry after every use to avoid the growth of mildew and mold. According to Parachute's website, "When a towel is hung on a hook, moisture gets trapped between the folds," so it's best to stick to airy towel bars.
While it may be tempting to free-pour your detergent—especially when your towels feel extra dirty—less is more in the case of towels to avoid soap buildup in the terrycloth loops. Make sure to wash towels separately with similar colors to prevent dye issues and pilling.
Keep your towels nice and fluffy by giving them a shake before throwing them in the dryer. Make sure your towels are dry before folding them, but avoid over-drying, which can create brittle fibers.
To make the most of your storage space, use the classic hotel fold. First, fold the towel in thirds lengthwise, then in thirds again. Place the towels with the edges facing the back of your shelf for a seamless look. Activated charcoal and lavender sachets can also help chase away mustiness and freshen up your linen closet.
Want a fresh summer alternative to classic towels? Opt for a Turkish Fouta towel, which has one smooth cotton side and a looped terry back.
Waiting too long between washings can not only make your skin break out but also breed dust mites—ew. The best way to avoid this is to wash your sheets every one to two weeks (we wash our sleeping pillowcase every week to keep our skin fresh). While microbiologist and pathologist Philip Tierno recommends washing sheets in warm water for people with allergies, it's important to read the label.
Linen bedding should be washed in warm water, but percale and sateen sheets are best washed cold. Always wash sheets separately with similar colors, and if you must use bleach, make sure it's chlorine-free, or use a bleach alternative.
Avoid overfilling the dryer to keep the bedding from twisting during the cycle. Prevent shrinkage and reduce wrinkling by tumble-drying on low and for the shortest time possible. Wool dryer balls can also help with reducing static. If you plan on making your bed directly after the drying cycle, pull the towels out just before they're completely dry. Slightly damp sheets will prevent wrinkles so you won't need to spend precious minutes ironing your sheets.
To fold the dreaded fitted sheet, lay your sheet flat with the corners up. Fold it in half, and tuck the top corners into the lower ones. Fold it in half again, tucking the corner into the other. Finally, fold it in threes twice to form a neat stack. Repeat this with your duvet cover and flat sheet, and tuck everything into a pillowcase from the matching set before putting it away in your linen closet—this will help keep all sets together.
Ready to conquer your linens? Commit these tips to memory with this downloadable cheat sheet.
This post was originally published on July 29, 2016, and has been updated by Sacha Strebe.