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How to keep white sheets white

White sheets are beautiful — at least when you first buy them.

But over time, that sparkling, brilliant white dulls into a dreary, dingy shade of blah, and you find yourself turning off the lights before you turn down the covers.

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How to clean your duvet

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How to clean your duvet

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MORE: How often you should wash your bedding — and the right way to do it

Well, get ready to change all that with these easy and effective tips from Mary Zeitler, laundry expert at the Whirlpool Corporation Institute of Home Science. Follow them and you’ll see the “white” once more.

  • Wash whites with whites: The cardinal rule for keeping sheets white is to wash whites with white. Forget the mixed loads. You’ll love the results.
  • Bleach them: If sheets are 100 percent cotton, bleach them whenever they start to look dingy. But, Zeitler cautions, you must add the bleach at the right time during the wash cycle. “Adding bleach with detergent counteracts its effectiveness. Instead, add bleach during the last five minutes of the wash cycle to ensure that the cleaning agents work best. Some washing machines have automatic bleach dispensers to eliminate the timing guesswork and make sure your whites are dazzling.”
  • Bleach alternatives: To brighten sheets made of non-cotton blends, use an oxygen- or enzyme-based bleach alternative, adding it during the last five minutes of the wash cycle.
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  • Measure detergent: A big reason why whites become dingy is because detergent residue builds up in the fabric over time. Make sure you measure detergent according to label directions. If you have soft water, reduce the amount of detergent you use by 50%.
  • Boost the rinse water: To help rinse out detergent residue completely, add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the final rinse cycle.

This article was originally published Mar. 18, 2016.

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