Although many people probably ignore it, most new sheets come with a fabric care label that specifies that the sheets need to be washed before using. Follow the instructions when washing new sheets; if the sheets shrink significantly in their first wash, they may not fit around extra-deep mattresses.
- Check the labels
Check the fabric care labels on any new sheets that contain trim to make sure they can be machine-washed. Turn colored or patterned pillowcases inside out before washing.
- Wash the new sheets
Wash new sheets in cold water. Use a gentle, non-bleaching detergent. Wash the sheets by themselves with just a tablespoon of detergent. Do not use fabric softener, which adds extra chemicals to the new fabric. Expect approximately 3 percent shrinkage, even when washing in cold water. Remove the sheets from the washing machine promptly.
- Dry the sheets
Air-dry the sheets if possible. If you cannot air-dry or do not want to wait that long, dry the sheets on the air fluff or lowest heat setting. High heat causes the fabric to lose its natural softness. If you plan to iron your sheets, pull them out of the dryer while they are still slightly damp and iron them dry. If not, remove the sheets as soon as the dryer's cycle is over and fold them or put them directly on the bed. Never fold sheets that are still damp, as they can develop mildew.