Nobody likes stiff sheets, but when you use a new set of linens for the first time, that’s often the case. Before starting to regret that you didn’t spend a lot more on a luxurious bed set, learn how to soften scratchy sheets with the help of the following ideas and tips. Even the cheapest sheets will feel as soft as expensive fabric once you apply any of these recommendations.
An expensive hack for softening any sheets
Even if you just bought a new set, you should consider taking the sheets through a washing cycle, as that usually helps with the stiffness of the brand new material. If softening new sheets is what you’re after, then you should consider the following hack.
When you place your sheets in the washing machine, add half a cup of vinegar and another cup – full this time – of baking soda. You will be amazed by what this tip can do. Once you touch the freshly washed linens, you will know that there is hardly anything else you should use.
However, if you’re not fond of this idea, or you want to try others, there are plenty of other helpful ideas included below. Check them out and apply those that are the most convenient for you.
How to soften sheets with salt
You must have heard that some methods involve the use of salt for softening your sheets. This idea is a no-brainer, too, just like the one described earlier. Still, it requires more time to work, so make sure to have that at your disposal. To make it work, you will have to fill the bathtub with cold water, place the sheets inside, and then add a full cup of salt.
Allow the sheets to soak in this mix for around two days. As you can see, you should have absolutely no need for that bathtub for the duration so that you can take care of the scratchy sheets you just bought. After that, you only have to wash them as you would normally do, and your sheets will feel soft and luxurious.
Softening stiff sheets with borax
Another method that requires you to let the sheets soak for a while is based on borax and its properties. For this tip, you will need to soak the sheets in the bathtub filled with cold water in which you poured half a cup of borax. Leave them overnight and then wash using a regular cycle. It is highly recommended to use less detergent than usual.
The way you dry the sheets matters, too
When discovering how to soften rough sheets, you will notice that the washing method and the cleaning products used matter, which is why it can be easy to overlook the importance of drying the sheets correctly. Line drying is the most recommended, but that may not be an option for most people.
Tumble dry on low if that’s the only way, and consider adding some clean tennis balls during this stage. The balls will ‘beat’ the fabric, making it less stiff and more manageable once you take it out of the dryer.
Why fabric softener is not such a great idea
The easiest way for most people is to reach for the fabric softener once they notice that their sheets are rigid and scratchy. But that’s not a reliable strategy for how to soften scratchy sheets. The problem with fabric softener is that it coats the fibers and makes them less rigid, but in the process, it also clogs the spaces between them. That means that the fabric remains less breathable, and, in time, you will notice that the sheets are less and less comfortable.
How about detergent? Is there a certain kind you should use?
The rule of thumb is to opt for a gentle detergent when washing your sheets. A good quality detergent will rinse off well from the fabric, but an even better idea is to use less of it. When washing your sheets, use only half of the usual dose of detergent, as this cleaning agent will cause buildup to appear between the fibers, making the material stiff and unpleasant to the touch.
If you notice that this problem appears, a good idea is to use an extra rinse cycle. This is how to make new sheets soft, too, and getting rid of that rigidness will help you have a good night’s sleep without a problem.
How to soften cotton sheets
Cotton remains one of the most commonly used fabrics for sheets because of the comfort rating it offers, durability, and breathability. Just like any other fabric, however, it needs a bit of preparation when bought new, as it can be stiff and coarse. A word of caution is in order; when you get new sheets, do not go for the cheapest type.
Cheap cotton sheets let small fibers poke outward, and these cannot be eliminated or determined to behave, regardless of what softening methods you use. Therefore, it is ideal that you go for at least medium quality sheets if they are made from cotton.
To soften such sheets, here are the few steps you must follow. As soon as you take them out of their packaging, place them in the washing machine and wash them with warm water and one cup of baking soda. Remember not to use detergent, as the cleaning agent will lock in the chemicals used for treating the cotton sheets so that they remain stiff until use.
When you run the rinse cycle, add a cup of vinegar. This cycle should run on cold water. Line drying in the sun is the best way to ensure that your sheets are clean and soft. To ensure the best results, after drying, wash them again, this time with detergent. You can use your tumble dryer this time around.
How to soften linen sheets
For linen sheets, there are several strategies available. Some laundry items made from linen even require that you wash them by hand, so different options must be considered. Here are some tips and ideas on how to soften stiff sheets if they are made from this material.
Wash your sheets as often as possible. There is no surer and effortless way to make them soft and comfortable than this. However, if you don’t want to wait until they become as soft as you want them to be, there are plenty of other ideas to try.
For items you can wash in a washing machine, add half a cup of baking soda to the detergent powder you usually use. A regular washing cycle will do the trick. For hand-washable items, it would be best to allow the fabric to soften in a bucket of cold water and a cup of baking soda. You can successfully use baking soda as a softening agent, and the more you use, the softer the linen will become.
Vinegar can work great as a fabric softener. There are several ways to use it for this purpose. One is to add it instead of your regular fabric softener; half a cup mixed with the same amount of water will do the trick. Another method requires you to rinse your sheets first with half a cup of white vinegar before running a washing cycle with detergent, as usual. If you’re interested in how to make sheets softer, getting familiar with vinegar and its properties will surely do the trick.
The soaking method requires you to leave the sheets to soak in cold water and one cup of vinegar overnight. This way, not only will you get soft sheets, but you will be able to remove the residue left by detergent and fabric softener from previous washes. After that, you should wash your sheets as you would typically do.
Another thing that works for linen like a charm is the use of tennis balls with the drying program. Repeated washes work for making the linen softer because they cause the fibers to become more malleable. But dryer balls can speed up the process and help you enjoy the results faster. That’s why, when you search for ways on how to soften bed sheets, you will often hear about this technique.
Why are sheets stiff and scratchy at first?
By using any of the ideas described here, you will be able to get rid of the sensation of stiffness in your sheets. But why are they like this when you unpack them the first time? Don’t be surprised to learn that even the most expensive sheets can feel this way.
To ensure that the sheets remain stiff in their packaging until customers buy them, the manufacturers treat them with chemicals. While it’s nice to look at sheets that are crisp and neat in their packaging, these chemicals can be too much. That’s why learning how to soften scratchy fabric actually involves ways to remove these chemicals through washing with various cleaning agents, as described earlier.
Don’t forget that sheets with a low thread count feel coarse because they don’t provide enough support and the fibers have too much space between them. Investing in good quality sheets is always a good idea.