How to get uncrumpled bedsheets?
June 22, 2016 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Mefi laundry experts: Is there some way to wash and dry good quality bedsheets so they aren't hopelessly crumpled?

My sheets look so badly crumpled out of the dryer that I need to iron them, and even that doesn't help much, apart from also being incredibly tedious.

I do a lot of shift work so a good sleep is important to me & I basically can't get by without high quality sheets. But if anything, high threadcount and 100% cotton sheets seem much worse for this than cheap polycotton ever was.

The crumples don't matter for sleeping but having really badly crumpled sheets and pillowslips makes my bed look a mess. Is there any way to improve this or am I stuck with it if I want to use decent sheets?
posted by Stephanie_Says to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Put them on the bed, which will stretch them out, while they're still warm from the dryer.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:08 PM on June 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Are you taking them out the moment they are dry and either neatly folding or putting them on the bed warm? If you're pulling them then and they're that crumpled, you're either washing them with too many other things or with not enough water, if it's a top-loader.

You can also stop halfway (or at the 1/3 and 2/3 point) through the dry process, pull them out and shake them loose, then put them back in.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:11 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some solutions, in order of what works for me with very high thread count sheets

1) Line dry outside, or
2) Tumble dry sheets & pillow cases only (no mixing in other clothing, the goal is to avoid overstuffing the dryer or having your sheets ball up around smaller items), and/or
3) Shake out sheets between taking them out of washer and putting in dryer. Medium heat, half way through the dry cycle, take them out and shake them out again, then finish the dry cycle, and/or
4) Take out of dryer while warm and put immediately on bed

Some folks swear by adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. I haven't noticed if this helps or not.
posted by jamaro at 6:19 PM on June 22, 2016

Put a lot less stuff in the dryer at once + monitor the dryer to take them out just as they get dry + make the bed right then (or: carefully fold them or lay them out so they're quite smooth). Problems will be solved.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:31 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

It didn't occur to me you might be washing/drying more than one set of sheets at a time but yes, badly crumpled laundry is a symptom of overcrowding. Wash one set of sheets and pillowcases only (you can throw in one lingerie bag if you need some emergency bras/underpants washed, but no regular clothes or towels - both the sheets and the other stuff will cause unnecessary wear on each other), dry alone, stop and fluff at least once while drying, remove immediately upon completion, do not over-dry, and fold neatly or put on the bed right away.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:29 PM on June 22, 2016

Definitely split your laundry up more - if you have to dry the bottom sheet alone, just do it. Also have you tried a drier ball before? I never have, but drier balls are supposed to deal with this.
posted by Toddles at 7:35 PM on June 22, 2016

I iron by folding. This is helped by taking them out of the dryer a little early. I have about three sets, so they get to sit for a bit before being used. It works pretty well.
posted by rhizome at 7:51 PM on June 22, 2016

Nth taking them out as soon as they're dry. If timing that's a pain, just do them how you usually do them. Then when you have 10-15 mins to "watch" the laundry, throw a wet, slightly wrung out face towel into the drier and put a timer on. They won't be perfect, but they won't be *as* wrinkled.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:31 PM on June 22, 2016

Use fabric softener and make sure the sheets are completely dry before taking them out.
posted by corey flood at 9:36 PM on June 22, 2016

Thanks very much, will try these out and report back.

To clarify, so I don't get lots of advice about the machine being too full- when washing and drying sheets, I don't put other items in the washer and dryer on the same cycle - the wash conditions for bed linen obviously don't suit clothing etc. As you'll know if you have a set, very high thread count sheets can take up a lot of space in the machine. So I can't fix that bit.
posted by Stephanie_Says at 2:34 AM on June 23, 2016

I treated myself to expensive linen sheets recently and they came with a card instructing me to never dry them all the way but to stretch them on the bed while they're still a little humid. This results in an almost perfect looking bed. The pillowcase edges still need a pass with an iron if I want it 100% perfect. I can't guarantee that cotton behaves the same way though.
posted by Dragonness at 6:10 AM on June 23, 2016

What Dragonness was said. Don't dry all the way. In fact, err on the side of damp vs humid. Take them straight from the hot dryer and stretch them over a bed. Come back and finish making the bed at least a half hour later to alow drying (if you can time this for the morning, the better to come back to a completely dry bed). If this doesn't work well enough for you or if you have more than one set per bed to wash, take them very damp from the dryer and iron them the rest of the way dry.
posted by zennie at 7:04 AM on June 23, 2016

I've been assuming you want DIY tips, but I'll share this in case it's an option for you.

We were taking all our laundry for Fluff'n'Fold just while our facilities were out of commission, and our high-thread-count, egyptian cotton, king-sized sheets are the one thing that we'll keep dropping off, because they get folded right out of the (huge) dryer and always look neat.

I bought extra pillowcases, so sheets can be washed 1x/week and pillowcases can be changed out 2x/week. Also, the people at "our" laundromat know to skip the fabric softener on our stuff, which helps a lot.*

If there's such a place on your way to/from work, the time spent dropping off and picking up will be nothing near the time you spend trying to get those results on your own, and to me it's worth every penny.

*A vinegar rinse really is preferable to any fabric softener, so I did that when I washed my own sheets, but just skipping the fabric softener is the next best thing, IME.
posted by whoiam at 10:32 AM on June 23, 2016

I find that sheets dried at the "low" dryer setting come out less wrinkled -- how much less depends on the sheets. The wrinkliness of all-cotton sheets varies from brand to brand, but all the different ones I've washed have come out much smoother when dried on low. You might find that a warm or cool wash is better than a hot one.
posted by wryly at 10:42 AM on June 23, 2016

I came here to suggest ironing... but that doesn't work for you? That alone makes me curious. I iron our cotton sheets with high steam (I think we have the same affliction), and they smooth out great.

Not sure if this makes a difference, but we don't use fabric softener. Sheets get a little gamey too quick with an oily coating, so we haven't used anything other than soap and water to clean them in years. And I love plain cotton sheets!

We use laundromat machines, and I've never tried drier balls but sounds like a lot of people swear by them for this reason.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:10 PM on June 23, 2016

Blame my mother's cockamamie DIY spirit for this. She used an old pair of suspenders underneath the mattress (side to side), attached to the edges of the bottom sheet. You could bounce a quarter on that sucker.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2016

I'd go with the "almost dry" solutions and if that wasn't enough reach for a handheld steamer and finish the job right on the bed.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:07 PM on June 23, 2016

Shake them when you take them out of the washing machine. This works with all clothes as well.

It'll help some of the creases drop out, and then the rest will get tumbled out in the dryer.
posted by vickyverky at 3:49 PM on June 24, 2016

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